Have you ever worked right next to someone who – instead of talking to you – sent an email?
I'm an IT person and I want to say that I think technology is a wonderful thing. But being adept at technology does not mean you are good at communicating. And it is common thinking in the industry that a technologically adept person does not manage others well.
This might very well be unfair. I am not aware of any qualitative research on the subject. But in my experience, I have met far too many IT managers who want to manage from behind a computer instead of walking around to talk to everyone.
There can be exceptions. There are great IT managers. Let's talk about how to make you one of those.
- Good IT managers make sure their staff understands this one basic truth: technology is only good if it is making our people more productive and our company more successful.
- IT managers cannot allow informality, sloppy dress, surly or superior attitudes among their staffs because, "That's how IT people are." No, they're not. They will behave up to the standards that you as the manager set and enforce. If you allow less-than-professional behavior, you will get more of it.
- Managers must keep their eye on the big picture. You can't be so concerned with security that you fail to test software or systems before making them live. And vice versa. The job of the manager is to make sure everything is working well. Does this sound unfair? Does it sound like too much? Then you don't belong in management.
- IT managers have to stop studying or waiting for the perfect solution. They are hired to lead. To analyze and suggest direction. There are no perfect solutions; we make them perfect by adjusting them to fit the specific need.
- IT managers must make sure projects are completed on time. Accepting excuses for missed deadlines is the stuff of failing companies. If the IT manager holds the staff accountable, the project deadlines will be met.
- It managers have to delegate and follow up. Too many IT managers are keeping all the plates spinning. One or more is bound to fall. Let staff help with those plates, but keep an eye on them.
A great IT nuts-and-bolts person does not necessarily make a great IT manager. The skills are different.
But there is a path to greatness. Just read this email. And then… don't forward it to the person at the next desk. Go talk it over.