How Big Data Can Help You To Be A Better IT Manager

by drjim on June 5, 2014

Big data can help IT manager build better IT team members

Big data can help IT manager build better IT team members
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As IT managers, our IT manager skills include the hiring, promotion, and career planning of the members of our team. All too often, we end up making decisions in this area based on what little IT manager training we’ve had and our “gut feel” about what is right for our team. In the field of human resource management, the power of big data processing is starting to be applied to all of that employee data that we’ve been collecting for so long. What’s being discovered just might change how you manage your team…

What You Know Is Wrong

A lot of the things that your gut might be telling you about how to be a better IT manager might just turn out to be flat out wrong. Specifically, a lot of the time we IT managers wonder if we really matter? Do our team members only hang around if they have challenging work, if they are paid more than at other firms, or if the company offers them the occasional free lunch? The answer is no. Recent studies have shown that how a worker interacts with their manager makes a huge difference on their decision to stay in a job or move on.

Likewise, does it really matter if a job candidate that you are interviewing has had 5 jobs in the last 2 years? Or does it matter if they’ve been out of a job for the past 18 months? Crunching the numbers using big data analytics processing has revealed that a person’s previous employment history really has nothing to do with how long they are going to remain at your company. A job candidate’s previous work history turns to not be a good predictor of the results that you’ll have with them.

Finally, when it comes to IT team members that you need to go out and sell the services that your team has to offer to other departments, you would think that you’d want to pick the ones who have the most outgoing personalities – the ones who look the most like a traditional sales person, right? It turns out that this is not the case. What you really should be looking for is the member of your team who has what is called “emotional courage”. This person is going to be able to keep persisting even after they’ve been initially told “no” by another department.

Lessons From Google

If there is any company out there in the world of IT that we would expect to be using big data to improve how they deal with their IT teams, it would be Google. It turns out that they have not let us down.

When Google initially started out, they knew that they wanted to hire only the best and the brightest candidates. They did exactly what the rest of us IT managers do: they decided to make their hiring decisions based on a candidate’s SAT scores and college grade-point average. Google has collected a great deal of data on its employees and they’ve found that this method has not been a good predictor of who will turn into a good Google employee.

Based on the employee surveys that Google has been doing since 2007 Google has discovered what type of IT worker seems to be the happiest working there. The characteristic that determines employee happiness at Google is how innovative they are. Those workers who have a strong sense of mission about the work that they are doing and feel that they have a great deal of personal autonomy about how they do this work are the ones who stay the longest, participate in IT team building, and who are the most productive.

What All Of This Means For You

IT managers who want to both build and maintain the best IT team possible are going to have to learn to overcome some of the gut-based decisions that they’ve been relying on in the past. A better solution is needed.

The arrival of big data and its associated analytical functions is for the first time allowing the field of human resource management to have a rigorous scientific method applied to it. A lot of the things that we IT managers have always assumed to be true are now turning out to be incorrect.

Over at Google they used to try to hire the best and the brightest college graduates based on their SAT and grade point average scores. Having conducted numerous surveys of their employees, what they’ve discovered is that having a sense of innovation is much more important to a Google employee’s long term success.

As IT managers we need to take the time to collect all of the data that we can on our IT team members. Hidden within this data are the answers to the questions that we should be asking about who we should hire and how we can keep our best workers. Take the time to collect the big data, and you just might be surprised what you discover!

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

Question For You: Do you think processing of your IT team’s big data should be done by you or should you outsource this task?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m sure that you know that you shouldn’t throw things that can be recycled away. Save the planet and all of that. So this brings up an interesting question: as an IT Leader how committed to recycling technology are you when the company is preparing to start up a brand new project?

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