Can An IT Manager Be The Office Bad Guy?

Somebody has to be the bad guy, why not you?
Somebody has to be the bad guy, why not you?
Image Credit: Antoine Skipper

If you sat down with most IT managers you’d discover that they’d really like to be liked at the office. I think that just about everyone thinks that if you are nice to everyone that you meet, then your chances of going far in the company are boosted. However, there is a group of IT managers who have taken a different path – they are using their IT manager skills to become the bad guys in their workplace and instead of feeling bad about this, they rather enjoy it.

It’s Dirty Work But Someone Has To Do It

Let’s face it – every office has a need for someone to do their dirty work for them. Each office has a need for at least one person who will be comfortable delivering bad news and being willing to make unpopular decisions. If this person is you, then even though you don’t have any IT manager training in doing so, you will be called on to deliver negative feedback, lay people off, or get rid of projects that are loved by employees.

If you are an IT manager that is unwilling to make unpopular decisions, then this is going to cause problems. If you are not going to be willing to alienate your colleagues, then this is going to force your company to have to bring in consultants when there is dirty work to be done. The need for someone to play the role of bad guy is not just when it comes time to fire someone, but also at company events like office parties. The bad guy is the person who will tap someone on the shoulder and let them know that their behavior is starting to get out of hand.

One of the things that IT managers need to realize is that the qualities that lead to career success may not be the same things that will make you popular. As an IT leader there is a good chance that you already have a dominate personality and this is something that can help you to shrug off other people’s disapproval of you and your actions. You are going to have to understand that by being the bad guy, you are going to be able to get more things done.

How To Deal With Being The Bad Guy

If you are going to play the role of the bad guy in your office, then you are going to have to make changes to the way that you behave. You are probably going to have to stop socializing with your work colleagues. The reason for this is because if the time comes to lay off someone who is your friend, then you may be tempted to make different decisions because they are your friends.

In order to be successful in the role of being a bad guy, you are going to have to find ways to do a good job even when you are facing resentment from those people with whom you work. You are going to have to get used to not being liked or loved. This job is all about being honest with the people that you are communicating with. If you can do this, then people may not like what you are doing or why you are doing it, but they won’t be able to argue with your integrity.

Playing the bad guy can be draining. As an IT manager you are going to have to take steps outside of work to cope with the stress that this type of job is going to place on you. Critical things that you’ll have to be doing will be getting enough exercise, eating well, spending time quietly with yourself, and finding hobbies that will fill your needs. You can also try to take the adversity that will be directed against you and turn it into an advantage. Use the negative emotions that are being directed against you and use them to focus on what you need to do in order to perform your job well.

What All Of This Means For You

Most IT managers would tell you that it is their goal to be universally liked where they work because they they spend their time doing IT team building. They view this as being a critical part of how they get their job done. However, there is another breed of IT managers who play the role of the bad guy in the workplace and they are ok with this.

In every workplace there are dirty jobs that need to be done: laying people off, canceling projects, etc. Although this is a critical role, filling it can be very hard on an IT manager who has empathy with the people that his or her actions are affecting. What this means is that it is very important that they find activities outside of the workplace that will allow them to counter all of the negative energy that their bad guy role will generate.

In order for your IT manager career to advance, you need to be seen as being valuable to the company. Being willing to step in and play the role of the “bad guy” when there is dirty work that needs to be done is one way to bring yourself to the attention of your company’s senior management. However, you’ll need to realize that playing this role will have a cost associated with it and you’ll need to take action outside of work to find ways to counter that cost.

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

Question For You: If you find yourself playing the role of bad guy, do you think that you can ever be seen any other way?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’d be willing to bet that there are a number of different IT manager tasks that none of us really enjoy doing and that we’ve never really had any IT manager training on how to do correctly. There is that end-of-year employee evaluation that takes so much time to do, there are perhaps weekly time cards that need to be filled out, etc. However, I’d be willing to bet that the #1 thing that we all hate to do is to fire members of our team. It turns out that this is part of the job and we’re expected to have the IT manager skills to do it so we’d better know how to go about doing it correctly.