Why “I Don’t Care How You Feel” Is Bad IT Management

by drjim on December 10, 2009

Don't You Miss The Good Old Days When Managers Didn't Have To Care About Their Team?

Don

Life is hard for IT Leaders and it’s not going to be getting any easier anytime soon. With everything that you need to be doing, it sure seems like having to put up with team members who have personal issues that take away from their ability to do their jobs can only hurt performance. For that matter, those “touchy-feely” workplaces that places like Google and Apple have sure seem to be missing the mark — work is for work or have these companies forgotten that?

The Good Old Days Where People Shut Up And Worked

Those of us who come from a technical background know how the world should be run. There should be a set of rules and everybody should know what the rules are and everybody should work according to the rules. If a business was run this way, an IT Leader’s job would be so much easier — you would only have to deal with the deviations from the rules.

However, we’ve tried doing this — it was called the 1950’s through the 1980’s. Remember the classic “IBM Man”? It turns out that the rigid workplace did work and you could get a great deal of productivity out of people; however, then the world changed.

What happened is that everything started moving much faster. Global competition showed up with a vengeance. Then the Internet arrived and things started moving even faster. All of those rigidly structured companies with their rigidly structured IT departments hit a brick wall. IBM felt it especially hard and there for awhile in the early 1990’s was teetering on the edge of failure.

What Works In Today’s IT Departments

If you miss the old days, you’re not going to like this part. After a lot of trial and error, we now know what it takes to make a modern company successful. The first step is to take the time to realize that the people working for the company are not “assets“, they really are people. These people have a life and potentially a family outside of work and the boundaries between the two have never been fixed.

This means that as an IT Leader you need to take the time to get to know the people who are working on your team. If you are able to really engage with them, to make a connection, then the boost to the productivity of your team can be almost magical.

The operative word here is “flexibility“. If you place people in a rigid IT environment, then they will at best do exactly what you tell them to do when you tell them to do it. If instead you are flexible and focus more on what you want them to do and no so much on how you want them to do it, then this causes your team members to become much more satisfied with their jobs and they will end up doing much more. This job satisfaction shows up as your team members treat customers and other employees better which then results in more loyal customers and more productive business interactions with other departments.

What All Of This Means For You

Creating a rigid IT team that has lots of rules to follow is a great way to keep things under control. New IT Leaders often gravitate to this type of solution because it’s familiar territory — almost like programming an IT system. However, this has been shown to be the wrong way to go about doing things.

The right way to have the most productive IT team is for you as an IT Leader to take the time to connect on a personal level with your team members. This means getting to know them and sharing your personal side with them also.

Creating an IT workplace in which the focus is on getting the work done and being flexible in just how it gets done is critical. This is the type of environment that will bring out the best in your team. The results that your team will produce from this type of situation will be the rocket fuel that powers your career to the next level.

Do you think that IT managers need to worry about getting to know all of their team members on a personal level?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

No budget, no special training, and yet you are expected to do more with less. How can you go about fixing what’s wrong with your IT team during tight economic times? It turns out that there is a simple way for you to identify where you are having issues and how you can fix them. All you need to do is to learn a about a new management tool called social-network analysis

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: