One of the challenges of being an IT manager is that often we get very little IT manager training before we find ourselves being thrust into this position. We may have the IT manager skills needed to do the job, but we may not have the experience. The most important thing that we need to do is to avoid making mistakes. However, before we can do that, we need to know what the most common IT manager mistakes look like…
Keep Your Distance
As an IT manager, you’ll probably start out with a relatively small team to manage. It can be anywhere from 2 people up to perhaps 10 people. This is a small group and our natural instinct is to try to get to know each person on our team very well. However, I’m going to suggest that you may want to keep your distance.
The reason for this is that if you take the long term view of your career, you will eventually be managing larger teams. These teams could have 35, 50, or even more people on it. You would like to start to develop the management skills that you are going to need to manage those teams today.
What this means for you is that you’ll want to practice keeping your distance from your team members today. Instead of allowing yourself to get caught up in the details of their lives and the specifics of the jobs that they are doing, instead spend your time focusing on the team’s overall project. By doing this you’ll be ready as your management responsibilities grow over time.
Leave Your Old Job
Before you were an IT manager, you were an individual contributor. This meant that you had a job and you created some sort of outputs. More often than not, when we are first made a manager, we find ourselves in charge of people who are doing our old job.
We know that job very well. This means that there is a real danger that you may tend to spend too much time working with the people who are now doing your old job. This is a very natural occurrence – that is the area in which you feel the most comfortable.
You need to resist this urge. Instead you need to spend your time managing the entire team. Don’t allow your past job responsibilities to draw you in. Balance your time evenly.
Congratulations on becoming an IT manager. This can be a very nice situation to be in. Perhaps you get a fancy cube or office and your business card now reads “manager”.
There is a real danger that you now view yourself as being “above” the members of your team. You view the tasks that your team does as being “their work” and you really can’t bother yourself with doing it because your time is taken up with all of the manager work that you are doing.
What you need to realize is that even though you are a manager, you are still part of a team. If things get busy and your team gets overloaded, you are going to have to be willing to jump in and lend a hand. Your team is going to expect this from you and you are going to have to be willing to do it if you want to be a real leader.
What All Of This Means For You
IT managers have their hands full from the first day that they get their new job. In order to be successful, they need to take care to not make the common mistakes that a lot of IT managers make.
These mistakes can include despite engaging in all of that IT team building. They include becoming too involved with their team members. What can work well for a small team won’t work once the team becomes larger. IT managers also have to be able to walk away from their old job. Despite the fact that that work is the most familiar, they need to leave it in the hands of their team members. Finally, IT managers can’t be reserved – if the team needs them, then they need to jump in and help.
The good news about being an IT manager is that it’s hard to make any fatal mistakes. However, there are a lot of other pitfalls that can be made. Take the time to understand what the most common mistakes are and you’ll know what you want to avoid.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: If you are too close to members of your team, how can you pull back?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As an IT manager, one of your most important jobs is to hire the right people to join your IT team. The ability to do this correctly is one of our critical IT manager skills, but too few of us have ever received any IT manager training on how to do it correctly. IT managers will often try to perform this job based on their “gut feel”. What we all need to understand is that hiring the right people is a process. If we follow the right process, then we’ll get the right people – every time.