What A Bad IT Manager Looks Like

by drjim on December 5, 2013

Nobody wants to work for a bad boss

Nobody wants to work for a bad boss
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We can talk about what a good boss looks like and does until we’re blue in the face; however, maybe it might be just as important to spend a moment talking about what a bad IT manager looks like. The thinking here is that if you know what they look like, then you can avoid becoming one of them…

Bad IT Managers Don’t Delegate

Every IT team is expected to accomplish a great deal of work. What is not specified is just exactly who on the team is going to do what work. Bad IT managers don’t have the IT manager skills needed to trust their own team. They show this by not delegating any of the important tasks.

Now I’m not saying that they don’t delegate anything – that would be too obvious. Nope, instead what they do is to only delegate the trivial or unimportant tasks and they keep the important tasks for themselves to work on so that the rest of the world will see them do it themselves.

Their thinking here is that is if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. What happens when a bad IT manager fails to delegate is that they become the roadblock that holds the team back. They start to work overtime, they take work home, and they find themselves working on weekends. As they do all of this work, they wonder why the rest of their team is not working as hard as they are! Ultimately what this shows is that this type of manager really has no idea how to train their team to do their jobs.

Bad IT Managers Don’t Promote Their Staff

A nasty side effect of a bad IT manager’s failure to delegate is that they end up not recommending any of their team members to be promoted. Since they have never had the needed IT manager training they are not delegating any meaningful work. This means that there is never an opportunity for a team member to demonstrate their skills.

For the members of the team, this creates a very bad work environment. Forget IT team building, since they won’t be able to show how good they are at their jobs, they won’t get noticed and recommended for a promotion. The bad IT manager believes that his or her team just is not willing to accept responsibility when the real reason is that they won’t delegate work.

The end result of this is that people leave. A key characteristic of a bad IT manager is that there is a lot of turnover on their teams. If you see an IT team in that seems to have new faces all of the time, then you can be well assured that that team is being led by a bad IT manager.

Bad IT Managers Don’t Take Vacations

The final identifying characteristic of a bad IT manager is that they don’t take vacations. Well, I guess that’s not 100% correct. How about this: they don’t take vacations of any real length – generally just a day or two here and there. The reason that they don’t is because they feel that they are too valuable to the company to take any significant amount of time off.

When these bad IT managers do take time off, they often leave detailed instructions for what everyone on their team needs to be doing while they are gone. They don’t trust their team to make progress while they are out, so they find it necessary to provide everyone with a list of things to get accomplished.

They will also make sure that everyone knows how they can be contacted while they are on vacation. They’ll also set things up so that they are contacted (“call me when we get that status update”). Their reason for wanting their vacation to be interrupted is so that they can show everyone that they are with just how very important they are – the company needs them all the time.

What All Of This Means For You

I’ve got some bad news for you: bad IT managers really do exist. I’m not trying to teach you how to become one, but rather I’d like to teach you how to recognize them when you encounter them. By knowing what a bad IT manager looks like, you’ll be able to make sure that you don’t turn into one.

It turns out that it’s pretty easy to spot a bad IT manager. Your first clue is that this type of manager is very bad at delegating responsibility. They keep all of the important tasks for themselves and only have the rest of their team work on trivial tasks. This means that they never get to see what their staff is capable of doing and so they never feel compelled recommend their staff to be promoted. Finally, because their job is such an important part of who they are, they rarely go on extended vacations and when they do they set things up so that they’ll be contacted during their vacation just to show the world how important they are.

Don’t be a bad IT manager. Learn from the lessons that we’ve discussed here. When you are managing an IT team, maximize your use of all of their skills and take the time to recognize what they are able to accomplish. The world needs more good IT managers and fewer bad IT managers.

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

Question For You: If you discover that you are showing bad IT manager traits, what is the first thing that you should do?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just exactly how did you get your IT manager job? Did you get it because you worked hard and you showed the powers that be that you had IT manager skills and just how good of a leader you could be so that they promoted you? Or did you get promoted because of who you know – dad, mom, grandpa, etc? If you got your IT manager job for all the wrong reasons, then your life is going to become a lot harder in the future…

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