How Should IT Managers Talk With Members Of Their Team?

The most important conversations that you will have will be with team members
The most important conversations that you will have will be with team members

Image Credit: {lor}

The secret to being a good IT manager is having the IT manager skills to truly connect with the members of your team. This is not magic, it’s actually a skill that can be learned with a little bit of IT manager training. You need to be able to sit down with each member of your team and have a real, meaningful conversation with them. This is the only way that you’re going to be able to get them to believe in you and do what you need them to do for you. So just exactly how does one go about having these types of conversations?

You Gotta Prepare

All too often we lump talking with members of our team with all of the other things that we have on our plate to do. The reality is that this task is actually a great deal more important. Because of its importance we need to take the time to prepare for each one of our team member discussions. What you are going to want to do is to map out how you want the conversation to go. What are the issues that need to be discussed? What objections could be brought up and how should you respond to them. Finally, what are your goals for having this conversation in the first place?

You Really Don’t Know It All

Once upon a time you were the member of an IT team. What this means is that there is a real possibility that you might think that you know everything that the team member that you’ll be talking to is going to say. I mean, you’ve had their job and you’ve faced all of the challenges that they are currently facing – or so you think. The reality is that we are all different. You might think that you know what is going on in your team member’s head, but you really don’t. Learn to keep your mouth shut during the discussion that you have with them. Let them say what they want to tell you – don’t make the mistake of believing that you already know what they are going to be saying or even why they’ll be saying it.

Get Ready To Ask “Why”?

A lot of IT managers try to avoid conversations with team members because they don’t know how they are going to keep the discussion going. I’ve got some good news for you: relax. It turns out that you already know how to keep these types of discussions going because you are not the one who should be doing the majority of the talking – you really want your team member to be doing that. In order to make this happen, you need to get good at asking “why” in a 100 different ways. This question can’t be answered with a simple “yes / no” and will require your team member to think and then launch into a discussion with you. Job done!

What All Of This Means For You

The company expects you to accomplish a lot as an IT manager. The trick is that you really won’t be doing much at all – it’s all about your team. What this means is that you are going to have to be able to connect with each one of them (think of this as a form of IT team building) and find a way to motivate them to do what you need them to do for you. Looks like you are going to have to get good at the art of conversation…

There are a number of different skills that you are going to have to work at in order to be able to have good conversations with your team members. These include not just walking into a conversation – you will have to take the time to prepare for them. During the conversation you are going to have to keep reminding yourself that you really don’t know it all and the person that you are talking with might have some valuable information for you. Finally, in order to dive deeper and deeper into the conversation you are going to have to become comfortable with asking “why” over and over again.

Surprisingly, many IT managers are not good at having conversations with their team members. This opens up a window for you to take the time to master this art and show the company that you can really connect with the members of your team. Once you get good at this, the way that your team performs will show how good of a manager you really are.

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

Question For You: How often do you think that you should try to have a conversation with each member of your team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the primary IT manager skills that an IT manager needs to have is to be able to communicate with others. There are a lot of ways to go about doing this (email anyone?); however, one of the most effective happens when you give a speech. Yeah, yeah – I fully understand that many of us would rather burst into flames than stand in front of a room and try to give a speech. However, it’s because this is such an effective form of communication that it is worth our time to get good at doing this.