IT Policies

Fifteen tips for the new manager from an experienced IT pro

If you think you learned all you really need to know in kindergarten, you've never been an IT manager. Read these tips from a seasoned pro to avoid first-timer errors.

Moving from a purely technical net admin role to a managerial position can be a long and winding road full of pitfalls. Steven Crane has become quite familiar with that road during his 16-year career in the IT industry. For eight years, he was an IT manager for major blue chip "fast moving consumer goods" (FMCG) companies such as Gillette and Parker Pen. In that time, Crane faced and overcame many management challenges. To help newly appointed IT managers avoid some of the mistakes he's made, he offers these 15 tips gleaned from his experience.

Tips for developing your management skills
  • #1: Read the One Minute Manager series of books by Ken Blanchard. A one-minute manager is someone who gets good results without taking much time, according to Blanchard. Apply his three easy steps to management and situational leadership.
  • #2: Learn the internal politics of your organization, and network with peer and upper managers. Ask their advice. Managers usually like to help other managers.
  • #3: Find and understand your own weaknesses as soon as possible. Remember, you're allowed to take training, too, so make sure you do.
  • #4: Learn to manage an IT budget down to the last penny and clearly show the business where money can be saved.

Tips to improve your communication with executive staff
  • #5: Don't take day-to-day problems to your boss. Instead, take recurring issues and optional solutions to the problem. Then, ask which approach your boss would recommend.
  • #6: If you do project work as well as support work, try to keep the two separate. It's a lot easier to justify bringing in extra staff members for a new project, as long as their salaries are included in the cost of implementing the project. Don't allow your staff to be pulled in both directions.
  • #7: Record and report everything. Require your team to fill out timesheets so you can factually show where resource time is spent. This will aid in any arguments for extra resources and will keep you current on what the team is doing. It will also make writing your monthly reports to executive staff members easier.
  • #8: In the event of a disaster, remember that your team's job is to get the systems back in place. Ensure you have good disaster and recovery plans for mission-critical systems and leave the business recovery to others.

Tips for motivating your team, negotiating politics
  • #9: If you have no formal help desk protocol and find that you're getting swamped with help calls, create a centralized help desk. Outsource this function if necessary. If you go this route, you should create service level agreements (SLAs) that outline your complete services.
  • #10: Invest your time in enabling your staff to succeed and fend off any counterproductive requests from other departments as much as possible.
  • #11: Learn Monkey Management: When employees come looking for help, be sure to send them away with the next action. Don't take on your employees' workload, because you'll have enough to do.
  • #12: Perform staff appraisals at least once or twice a year. Provide staff members with clear objectives and then help them reach their goals.
  • #13: Hold regular team meetings. This is difficult because of constant deadlines and because everyone always seems too busy. If absolutely necessary, have lunch meetings, but be sure to provide the sandwiches.
  • #14: Treat your team to a meal out at least once per quarter. If you control the budget, you can manage the cost.
  • #15: Recognize that the sum capability of your staff is your team's maximum output. Just because you have high standards, don't expect your team members to hold the same values. Praise and encourage them in their areas of strength and provide good training for their areas of weakness.

Success comes one day at a time
Crane's successful management skills have allowed him to work as an independent management consultant. Today, he helps supply small and medium-size companies with IT Electronic Point Of Sale (EPOS) systems and e-business service strategies. He still uses these management tips to aid him in his work with clients' IT staffs.

What's your best tip for net admins turned manager?
Have you recently moved into a management role? If so, what was the first hard lesson you learned? Send us your anecdotes; we may use them for an article on TechRepublic.

 

Moving from a purely technical net admin role to a managerial position can be a long and winding road full of pitfalls. Steven Crane has become quite familiar with that road during his 16-year career in the IT industry. For eight years, he was an IT manager for major blue chip "fast moving consumer goods" (FMCG) companies such as Gillette and Parker Pen. In that time, Crane faced and overcame many management challenges. To help newly appointed IT managers avoid some of the mistakes he's made, he offers these 15 tips gleaned from his experience.

Tips for developing your management skills
  • #1: Read the One Minute Manager series of books by Ken Blanchard. A one-minute manager is someone who gets good results without taking much time, according to Blanchard. Apply his three easy steps to management and situational leadership.
  • #2: Learn the internal politics of your organization, and network with peer and upper managers. Ask their advice. Managers usually like to help other managers.
  • #3: Find and understand your own weaknesses as soon as possible. Remember, you're allowed to take training, too, so make sure you do.
  • #4: Learn to manage an IT budget down to the last penny and clearly show the business where money can be saved.

Tips to improve your communication with executive staff
  • #5: Don't take day-to-day problems to your boss. Instead, take recurring issues and optional solutions to the problem. Then, ask which approach your boss would recommend.
  • #6: If you do project work as well as support work, try to keep the two separate. It's a lot easier to justify bringing in extra staff members for a new project, as long as their salaries are included in the cost of implementing the project. Don't allow your staff to be pulled in both directions.
  • #7: Record and report everything. Require your team to fill out timesheets so you can factually show where resource time is spent. This will aid in any arguments for extra resources and will keep you current on what the team is doing. It will also make writing your monthly reports to executive staff members easier.
  • #8: In the event of a disaster, remember that your team's job is to get the systems back in place. Ensure you have good disaster and recovery plans for mission-critical systems and leave the business recovery to others.

Tips for motivating your team, negotiating politics
  • #9: If you have no formal help desk protocol and find that you're getting swamped with help calls, create a centralized help desk. Outsource this function if necessary. If you go this route, you should create service level agreements (SLAs) that outline your complete services.
  • #10: Invest your time in enabling your staff to succeed and fend off any counterproductive requests from other departments as much as possible.
  • #11: Learn Monkey Management: When employees come looking for help, be sure to send them away with the next action. Don't take on your employees' workload, because you'll have enough to do.
  • #12: Perform staff appraisals at least once or twice a year. Provide staff members with clear objectives and then help them reach their goals.
  • #13: Hold regular team meetings. This is difficult because of constant deadlines and because everyone always seems too busy. If absolutely necessary, have lunch meetings, but be sure to provide the sandwiches.
  • #14: Treat your team to a meal out at least once per quarter. If you control the budget, you can manage the cost.
  • #15: Recognize that the sum capability of your staff is your team's maximum output. Just because you have high standards, don't expect your team members to hold the same values. Praise and encourage them in their areas of strength and provide good training for their areas of weakness.

Success comes one day at a time
Crane's successful management skills have allowed him to work as an independent management consultant. Today, he helps supply small and medium-size companies with IT Electronic Point Of Sale (EPOS) systems and e-business service strategies. He still uses these management tips to aid him in his work with clients' IT staffs.

What's your best tip for net admins turned manager?
Have you recently moved into a management role? If so, what was the first hard lesson you learned? Send us your anecdotes; we may use them for an article on TechRepublic.

 
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