The Two Things That It Takes To Be A Great IT Manager

In order to be great, an IT manager has to do two things very well
In order to be great, an IT manager has to do two things very well

Image Credit: Alisha Vargas

With a little luck, we all enjoy being an IT manager. Unlike back in the days when we were simply rank-and-file workers in the IT department, now that we are managers we get to control things. We are in charge of a team of IT professionals and it’s our responsibility to use our IT manager skills to show them how to be successful. However, in order to do all of this, it turns out that there are two skills that each of us has to take the time to master.

What’s Your Strategy?

Let’s face it, in every company there are always a lot of things going on at the same time. What this means for you and your team is that at any given moment in time there will be multiple people who will be asking you to work on a lot of different things. As confusing as this will be for your team, it’s going to be just as confusing for you no matter how much IT manager training you have. What you desperately need is a way to keep your team focused even in the middle of a storm.

The answer to this challenge is to provide your team with both a clear vision and a strategy. We have to acknowledge that our teams are going to get pulled in a number of different directions all the time. What you need to do as an IT manager is to make sure that you help your team to remain focused on what really matters. This means that you have to always be reminding them what the team’s goals and strategy are. You have to keep asking them how what they are currently working on is going to help the team achieve its strategy.

Hopefully it is starting to become clear just how important this strategy stuff really is. Unfortunately, when we become IT managers we are not just handed a strategy that our team is supposed to implement. Instead, we are expected to create one of these ourselves. What you need to do is to make sure that you involve your team in this process. What you are going to want to do is to get them to participate in both setting and evolving the team’s vision. Once the team’s vision and strategy have been established, you then need to task the team to track their progress in achieving the strategy.

Just Exactly How Sharp Are You?

Long before we become IT managers, we were IT workers ourselves. What this meant is that we had IT skills and we were able to perform actual work during the day. When we became IT managers, what the company expected us to do changed. No longer were we expected to write code or setup networks. Instead, now we worry about budgets, staffing, delivery dates, and vendor relations. However, if you want to be a great IT manager you can’t allow all of those technical skills to slip away.

You need to make sure that your team understands that they are not in this alone. Especially when things get really busy, you can’t be locked away in that office far, far away from your team. Instead, when times get tough you need to be willing to roll up your sleeves and dive in with your team and get the work done. They will see you using those old skills to help them be successful and you’ll win the eternal gratitude of your team for being willing to help them out.

All too often being an IT manager means that we are too far away from the actual work that is being done. Sure, we understand what the project is supposed to deliver, but because we are not the ones doing the actual work we don’t fully understand just what it’s going to take to get the work done. What we need to do is to take the time to sit down with the people on our team who are actually doing the work and make sure that we understand what is going to have to be done in order to complete the project. Our goal has to be to understand the specific challenges that this project is presenting your team with.

What All Of This Means For You

As IT managers what our company wants us to do has changed dramatically since we were front-line IT workers. It is our job to use IT team building to direct our IT teams to successfully move the company forward. It turns out that in order to do this successfully, there are two critical skills that we need.

Every IT team is always going to be asked to do multiple things all at the same time. You need to create a way that will allow them to remain focused on what is really important. This means that you’ll need to create both a vision and a strategy for your team. They will need to be involved in creating both of these items so that they can measure their progress towards implementing them. You used to have good IT skills; now you spend your time doing management stuff. However, when things get tough for your team you need to be willing to jump back in and lend a helping hand. Take the time to understand what your team is really working on.

Good communication with your team is a critical part of what it takes to be a successful IT manager. You need to make sure that you provide your team with both a vision and a strategy that they can work towards. Make sure that they know that you are willing to work with them to achieve that strategy. Do these two things and everyone on your team will agree that you are a great IT manager.

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

Question For You: Do you think that an IT team’s strategy should be a fixed thing or should it change with time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As we work towards trying to become better IT managers, we tend to focus on our IT manager skills in order to determine either what we are not currently doing or what we could be doing better. However, it turns out that there is something else that we need to be doing: making sure that we don’t do things that we should not be doing. The first step in making this happen is to ensure that we understand what we must not be doing.

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