You may not have been told this when you accepted your IT manager position, but a big part of your job has to do with using your IT manager skills to master the art of communication. No matter if it’s communicating with your team, with other teams, or even other departments in the company, part of what you’ve been hired to do is to get your message across. Do you really have any idea how to do this effectively?
The Problem With The Written Word
I’m almost a bit hesitant to admit this, but when I have something that I want to communicate to my team, more often than not, based on the IT manager training that I received back in the day, I’ll sit down and either write them a lengthy email or create a new document to share with them. It turns out that this is exactly the wrong thing to do – the written word is no longer the right way for an IT manager to communicate with their team.
There are a lot of different problems with the way that we used to share information with our team (like back before there was this Internet thing). First off, there is the issue of time: it takes a great deal of time to actually write out a document. Who has the time that this is going to take? Next, there is the issue of finding the time to actually read the thing once it’s been created. Just think about how busy your team is, do you really think that any of them are going to have the time to sit down and give your document the careful attention that it really deserves?
The final nail-in-the-coffin for the process of communicating using lengthy documents is that they are very hard to change. Considering how fast things change in terms of what your team is working on and when things are due, just about the time that you complete your document, it will be completely worthless. These changes always bring up the big question: who’s going to go back and update the document later on?
PowerPoint Is Your Friend
All of these issues with creating documents to communicate with your team are enough to make any IT manager throw up their hands and give up. Don’t! It turns out that you’ve just been using the wrong tool to get your messages across. The good news is that you already know how to use the tool that you should be using: PowerPoint (or Keynote if your a Mac fan).
One of the most important features that using PowerPoint will provide you with is that the slides that you’ll create are both quick to create and quick to review. More often than not what we are trying to accomplish as IT managers is to get our team to come to an agreement about a plan. Presenting information about the plan to them using PowerPoint is agile enough to allow us to succinctly get our message across in a limited amount of time.
The other great advantage of using PowerPoint to communicate with your team is because a slide deck is simple to update when changes occur. When you’ve just gotten new information, it won’t take you long to delete the slides in your deck that are now incorrect and drop in some updated slides. A narrative set of slides allows you to tell a story that your audience is going to be able understand and then, with a little bit of luck, take action on.
What All Of This Means For You
The ability to be a good communicator is a critical skill that every successful IT manager needs to have. In order to be able to get your team to understand the message that you are trying to communicate to them, you need to pick the right way to get it to them.
It turns out that the old-fashioned way of creating a document to lay out the ideas that you want to share with your team is the wrong way to go about doing things. Instead, using PowerPoint to create a slide deck that is then used to tell your story is a much better way to get your message across. Slides allow you to quickly make changes and are easier for your intended audience to absorb. Think of using PowerPoint as being a form of IT team building.
At the end of the day, its our ability to effectively communicate what we want our team to do that will determine how successful we will be as an IT manager. Using the right medium to get our message across is a key part of this. PowerPoint turns out to be the perfect tool: it’s flexible and it allows us to quickly tell our story. Now that you know both what you need to be doing and how you should be doing it, get out there and start making some slides!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that there is a “right” size to a slide deck that you create to communicate with your team?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Being an IT manager can be an exciting job. There are a lot of different challenges that we need to tackle: staffing, managing, problem solving, interacting with other departments, boosting our IT manager skills, etc. However, in everyone’s IT manager career there comes a point-in-time that it starts to feel like we’ve got just about everything under control. When this happen there is the danger that we might start to become bored. This can lead to bad decision making.