Leadership optimize

Video: Five tips for becoming a great IT manager

Bill Detwiler shares five tips to help IT professionals successfully transition from a technical position into IT management.

Even if you've always excelled in a technical role, you'll need to develop different skills to succeed in a management position.

Being a good manager is more about how you interact with your staff than how smoothly various projects go. And unfortunately, many tech-savvy IT pros find the necessary interpersonal skills more difficult to master than PowerShell scripts or Cisco IOS commands. During this episode of TR Dojo, I share five tips to help you succeed as an IT manager.

For those who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or check out Brien Posey's article, "Five tips for becoming a successful IT manager."

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About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

10 comments
katja
katja

I disagree with your comment about keeping up your technical skills while being a people manager. If you move into a staff management position, it is your job to manage and develop your staff/department and create succession plans to mitigate the risk of someone leaving. No management class will tell you to keep up your technical skills so you can step in when someone leaves.

ej79931
ej79931

Just letting you know.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

management position. During this episode of TR Dojo, I share five tips to help you succeed as an IT manager. But should management be the goal of every IT professional? Are you now or would you like to one day be in an IT management roll? Take the poll in the above post and let me know. Original post and poll: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=2093

jasonwpeak
jasonwpeak

Imagine having the head of your accounting department who doesn't have accounting skills. Or the head of your sales department that doesn't have sales skills. Or the head of your shop floor who doesn't have manufacturing skills. Believe it or not, managers are expected to be able to step in and make sure the job gets done, and that means doing the job themselves if the normal personnel isn't available. I'd love to hear the accounting manager tell the CEO of the company "Yeah, we got audited by the IRS and they fined us a half million dollars because our cost accountant was on vacation and I didn't know how to answer their questions." You can't effectively manage a department unless you are competant enough to run the department. Period.

tilshiloh
tilshiloh

Why do people seem to think that in the IT industry, our managers should be non-techs. Account managers are usually CPA! In HR, Sales, people have some kind of relative qualification. Granted you don't have to be the CISCO don but at least know that IPv6 is around, and what it does. Also to be greatly less qualified than your subordinates in any industry is asking for mutiny.

fred64
fred64

Managers face a number of challenges. Managing people of course is obvious. Vendors, projects and operational standards/methods significantly play into a manager's role as well. Each requires a solid technological basis from which to make decisions; define time lines and expectations; and implement long term strategies. Sure you can glean much from listening to your staff, customers and vendors, but those alone simply are not enough to deliver effective solutions to your customer base. Each player on the team comes with a viewpoint and goal set. Your techs help define technical reality, feasibility and effort. Your customer defines urgency, needs and service levels. Your vendors pitch solutions, offer assistance and define their future direction. IT peers collaborate on standards and operational methodologies. But only the IT manager can weave from all that effective solutions that are cost effective, reliable, timely and long lasting. It requires listening skills (very difficult to master), technological knowledge (easy to lose), strategic thinking (elusive to many), an eye for thrift and political savvy (perhaps the hardest to master). Bottom line... For techs becoming managers learning the people skills is primary, but its not all people skills!

dougallgood
dougallgood

I agree probably most management classes will not tell you to keep up your technical skills, but education isn't educating you directly for the company or companies you will work with. Education may not teach you this, but for many managers the business does. Depending on your company size, environment, turn-over, staffing levels, the economy, ...keeping your technical skills up is a necessity. You may not be in a position to replace someone that leaves...the business doesn't care, you must keep delivering the services and support they require.

gshriner
gshriner

Great Video and Tips I was Field Tech for 11 years and within the last year I took the job as a Systems Administrator for a local company. The job is a lot tougher than being a Field Tech before I would make recommendations and let the business ponder on it, now it?s all a big Corporate Decision and I have to convince a jury that my recommendation is what?s in the best interest of the Company and Users. And meeting a low budget on a quickly growing Company is not the easiest thing to do, more users then computers? OK let?s get a new workstation so the users can be more productive and not wait on a computer ?great? but now it?s why did we spend the money to get a new computer when we could create another user account on a workstation? It?s never ending and the job has its good and bad. The pay is great started out over $50.000 a year but to be honest if I leave this position it will be because I feel like technology is passing me up. As we know in the computer world technology moves fast you have to change with it or be left behind. As a System Administrator / Manager you deal with the same problems if you have problems and some not all Company?s feel that if they are working then why upgrade so you get left with working old technology as where in the field you get the opportunity to touch on everything hardware and software. So it?s easy to say stay sharp when you?re in the Administration but how when the best tool is hands on? And you have limited resources? The pay is great but is it worth it? Prob not.

ej79931
ej79931

I've been in a technical support role for the better part of 10 years. It's not that I enjoy it, because helping people find the start button and killing virii gets very old very quickly, but it's more that I've somewhat fallen into a rut with the gig. Also, taking into account the market right now getting into a management position is hard, especially when your company is on a shoestring and there is no way to get bumped up past the current incumbent manager. That is, even if I wanted the position. I hate dealing with corporate headquarters and their inane policies. It's worse than cleaning virii off every day. As a baseline tech I'm somewhat insulated from the process. I just receive my parameters and work within them, and if another employee is unhappy with the limitations I have to enforce, I can pass the buck up to someone with more clout. I'm impatient too, and not terribly good with people that are oblivious to their annoying habits, or that refuse to abridge them when they are pointed out (even if it's by a manager). I recognize that I'm lacking in a certain mentality to make a good manager in a true corporate environment, and frankly I'm ok with that. I have a "technician" mentality; give me a computer or equipment problem and I'll either batter it down head on or figure a nice OOTB solution. Give me the variables inherent in a human equation, coupled with the added pressure of a corporate "watchdog" hounding your every decision, and the pressures we take from keeping the rest of the company afloat and things just go cockeyed. I don't want that pressure. My logic patterns don't coincide well with the "norm" of most companies. I'm too blunt, too rude, too curt, too often thinking of "non-standard solutions that are outside of corporate expectations". I would not make a good manager, in THIS environment. I recognize it and acknowledge the limitations it imposes, and that's fine with me.

tbmay
tbmay

Quote: "not terribly good with people that are oblivious to their annoying habits, or that refuse to abridge them when they are pointed out (even if it's by a manager)." When I first left the comfort of a stable employer to go out on my own, I did residential support as a way of making some cash while I built business clientele. My logic was it wasn't a bad way to advertise as all these folks had jobs that could potentially turn in to something with regards to my real target market. This was a dumb thing for me to do and I have long since dropped that foolishness. No sooner do you clean up the mess they, or their teenagers, or whatever, made of their machines than they're calling you again...irate...saying you didn't fix their machine. Nothing and nobody will convince some people anything is their fault. There is some of that in businesses too; however, it's much less pronounced. When I worked as an employee, it was there also. And when we hard-drive protected workstations and imaged FIRST, we got them working quickly but they didn't like that either because they wanted freedom with their machines. Corporate IT isn't about making user happy. It's about keeping them working. It is not possible to make all users of IT happy. It just ain't going to happen.