Just Exactly What Does An IT Manager Do?

You can't be a good IT manager if you don't know what the job requires
You can’t be a good IT manager if you don’t know what the job requires

Image Credit

Congratulations, you are an IT manager. Now what? All too often good technical workers find that they get “rewarded” for a job well done by being promoted into their very first management position. That would be fine if they had the IT manager skills that they needed for this job, but all too often that’s not the case. Instead, they find themselves with new responsibilities and no owner’s manual.

Just What Is An IT Manager’s Job?

Back in the day before you become an IT manager, it turns out that life was actually pretty simple. You had been assigned a very specific set of tasks to accomplish, you did them, and life was good. When you become an IT manager, almost overnight with little or no IT manager training things become much more complicated.

What can make being an IT manager a challenge is that there is not one specific thing that you need to do. Instead, there are a number of different things that you’ll be called on to do – perhaps several times during a day. A much better way to think about being an IT manager is to view it as playing the role of an actor. At any moment in time, you may be called on to play a different role. This role could be that of a teacher, a coach, a performance appraiser, a standards setter, or even a motivator.

What role you find yourself playing will in large be determined by the situation that you find yourself in at the time. Each role will provide you with the tools that you’ll need in order to accomplish a specific set of objectives. The one thing that you don’t want to do is to play the role of “yourself”. This will prevent you from becoming the character that your team needs you to be at any given point in time.

The Secret To Long-Term Success

The secret to having a lengthy IT manager career is to understand what it’s going to take to make you successful. Many people who suddenly find themselves in the role of an IT manager assume that they’ll be able to accomplish their new goals by telling the members of their team what they need to do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead, what you need to do is to search for ways that you can enable the members of your team to become self-directed. What you want them to be able to do is to make progress towards accomplishing the goals that you’ve laid out for the team even when you’re not there to tell them what they should be doing next.

Yes, there will be times when you will need to take charge and tell the members of your team what they should be doing. However, a much better long term approach is to find ways to get their support. You need to make a commitment to share power with them and by doing this you’ll get your team to commit to working towards accomplishing the goals that you’ve set for the entire team.

What All Of This Means For You

Becoming an IT manager should be viewed as what it is: your company’s way of complementing you on a job well done. However, you won’t be in the job for long if you don’t understand what you need to do as an IT manager.

It turns out that there is no one answer to the question of just exactly what an IT manager does. Instead, it turns out that you’ll actually be playing many different roles. Different situations will require you to respond differently. It’s important that you be flexible enough to take on a different role as required. You’ll also have to understand that successful IT managers don’t boss their team around. Instead they use IT team building to help their team members to become self-directed.

One of the greatest secrets to being a successful IT manager has to do with how you can be successful. Once you are a manager, your career no longer rests in your hands. Instead, your long-term success will be determined by how your team performs. This means that you’re going to have to convince them to make you look good. Who knew that that’s what being an IT manager is all about?

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

Question For You: What is the best way to measure how self-directed each member of your team currently is?

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

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just imagine if I picked you up and dropped you into a workplace that you had never been in before. What would the first thing that you’d do as an IT manager be? I’m willing that you’d want to collect as much information about the situation that you had found yourself in as possible – sure seems like one of those IT manager skills that we should all have. Well, it turns out that if you want to be a successful IT manager this is exactly what you need to know how to do…