Should IT Managers Track Their Employees?

Should IT Managers Track Their Employees? (The IT manager skills that are most valuable include IT manager training and IT team building)
Should IT Managers Track Their Employees?
(The IT manager skills that are most valuable include IT manager training and IT team building)
Image Credit: Surrey County Council News

As IT managers one of our primary job responsibilities is to use our IT manager skills to make sure that the members of our team have the information that they are going to need in order to do their job. This may sound like a relatively straightforward task, but in reality it turns out to be quite difficult to do. The reason that it is so hard is because despite all of our IT manager training we really don’t understand how information flows inside of our company.

The Problem With Information

So what seems to be the big deal here? Right now the members of your team come to work every day and, with a little luck, they put in a full day. However, are they really being as productive as they could be? Or are time killers stealing their productivity away from them? Some common time killers include non-productive meetings that they have to sit through, emails that are too vague to be able to take any action on, and training that simply is not needed.

Clearly this is a problem for IT managers. What you’d like to know is how information flows within your team. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this. Some methods include mining team member’s emails, taking a look at their online chat logs, and keeping track of how many face-to-face meetings they have (and with who). The goal is to uncover how information enters your team and, once its inside, how it flows from team member to team member.

Some IT managers have already started to try to capture this type of information. What they are doing is using apps in order to try to gauge employee performance and ultimately employee productivity. The good news is that the technology that we can use to perform this type of analysis just keeps getting better and better. Now we can add sensors to employee’s badges in order to track where in the building they are. This can help us to get a better feel regarding who each employee interacts with. Software is also becoming available that will permit the analysis of online calendars in order to better understand where everyone’s time is going.

Getting Information To Where It Needs To Be

What IT managers would like to see happen is for teams to efficiently communicate and to improve their collaboration without doing things that will overload individual team member’s schedules. The results of studies of how team members are spending their time can be quite eye opening.

The results from one such study showed that the team members were spending far too much time with either their bosses or with their direct reports. This limits the ability of information to flow within the team. Somewhat surprisingly, what the study found was that employees who stopped to chat with colleagues did the best job of spreading information throughout the team. These people also ended up spending fewer hours trapped in meetings.

What this means for you as an IT manager is that you’d really like to configure your team’s workplace so that they have an opportunity to mix and mingle more. Doing things like creating a town-square like lounge or offering free breakfasts and lunches can create more opportunities for the members of your team to interact and share information. This is almost like a form of IT team building. It turns out that people are spending 50% more of their time collaborating than they did just 10 years ago. Clearly this kind of collaboration is going to be needed in order to get information to flow into and out of your team.

What All Of This Means For You

What makes a team work well is information. The more that each member of the team knows about what is currently going on, the more they will be able to contribute to the overall team’s success. However, getting everyone to have access to the information that they will need can be a real challenge for an IT manager.

The challenge comes from the simple fact that we really can’t “see” the flow of information within our team. There may be time killing activities that are sapping the productivity of team members. We can take steps to find out how information flows by using apps and badge tracking devices. Studies have shown that time spent with bosses and subordinates will restrict the flow of information while talking with random coworkers will help it spread. IT managers can help information spread within their team by creating a workplace environment that allows this to happen.

Understanding that the free flow of information within our team is what will contribute to the team’s success is a key point for IT managers. It is our responsibility to understand how information is flowing today and to then to take steps to help it flow farther and faster. If we can get this right, then our team should be able to better help the company move forward faster.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think some people on your team do a better job of spreading information than others and if so why?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Being an IT manager is not an easy thing to do. There are many different people asking us to do things for them and there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. What happens to us is that as we make our way through the day, our stress level starts to rise. Although this is a natural occurrence, it can start to cause problems for us. The one thing that we don’t want to have happen is for us to find ourselves in a stressful situation where we then end up choking.