This was a very good list of items for every successful IT manager. However, I wanted to comment on each point, and add a few points as well.
1. Training. Although I agree that training is crucial to developing a strong team (and the strong team will in turn make the manager that much more successful), companies cannot always afford the luxury of training. The article mentions free resources, and I agree that once you filter the sales pitch, you can gain some valuable knowledge. Another great way to develop your staff is to do internal cross-training. It is amazing what your own team members know, and what they can teach each other given a formal platform to do so. Conducting in-house "lunch and learns" or holding one hour sessions in a conference room or training room using a defined curriculum is extremely valuable. Additionally, having staff perform training builds their confidence in speaking, presentation skills, and overall communications skills. This will prove to be a team asset when it comes to service delivery.
2. I agree that it is important for the IT manager to know what the staff does. However, in my opinion, a great manager is a leader and coach first, and a resource second. By performing the cross training in the previous point, the staff can compensate in the event that a resource is out for some reason. Additionally, well-defined or documented procedures will act as an aid in bringining temporary staff up to speed in a needed area. With the technology today (webex/livemeeting, sharepoint, Wiki, blogs, etc.), there is little reason that technical staff cannot capture training sessions or procedures and put them into a presentable format for documentation purposes.
3. Don't do it for them. This is the absolute truth. As a manager, your job is to lead and direct the work of the staff, as well as help them grow. By doing the work for them, they will not develop their own skills and methods of performing the work. Parents can relate to this -- would you want to always tie your child's shoes for him/her? If you do not teach your child to tie their shoe, they will depend on someone to do it for them, and will become complacent with not having to do it themselves.
4. Know the business. I can't agree with this more. I have met many IT managers who simply do not understand the business that they are in, let alone business principles in general. Like the technical content, there are MANY resources that are on the Internet that will teach simple business concepts (finance, accounting, management, marketing). Every IT manager needs to understand business-related fundamentals, and most importantly, management fundamentals. Again, when it comes to understanding your business, how can you serve your customers if you do not understand their needs? Additionally, your team is a business unit, and trust me, you will have to market and sell their services at some point, which will require financial business justification.
5. Communication. This is the area that I have seen where most IT managers struggle the most. To be an effective manager in any field, communication to your team, peers, and management is critical. Additionally, communication involves listening, expressing, understanding, and presenting information. Many managers cannot give an effective presentation using powerpoint, and often cannot write documents or email messages that express their point adequately. Furthermore, to be an effective communicator, one has to know their audience, and have a good grasp of the language they are communicating in, and the grammar structure that accompanies that language.
6. Teamwork. Another great point. Succeed as a team, fail as a team. The manager is the leader or coach, and the team is the unit. By working together and compensating for weaker areas, the team can remain successful and positive.
7. Feedback to employees. This is another area that I often see IT managers struggle with. In order for a manager to influence their employees, they need to express what the expectations of the postition are. Additionally, a great IT manager will realize what motivates EACH employee, and will focus on that motivation to drive employee productivity. Feedback is the communication channel between the manager and the employees to let them know if they are on track with their goals.
8. Hire well. Absolutely. Surrounding yourself with motivated employees that are capable of doing the work presented to them will make you a successful manager. Your team's successes directly reflect your ability to lead. Each team has a set of dynamics that determine how the team operates and comminucates. Introducing a new memeber to this team should warrant strong consideration of the team dynamics and culture. I recommend having the team meet candidates and ask small team situational-oriented questions to see how the candidate responds. This will also provide the candidate an opportunity to size- up the team that is in place.
9. Industry best-practices. This is a valid point, and should be used in conjunction with understanding the business. For example, does Sarbanes-Oxley apply to your company? What about HIPAA? Is the ITIL framework right for your organization? These questions all depend on the business that your company is in. Making the connection between your business and the IT industry is a difficult, but necessary, part of being a great IT manager.
10. Project Management. Most IT departments and teams end up doing projects regardless of their role in the company. A project could be a roll-out of Windows XP, or VOIP, or developing and application for end users. Even help-desk teams encounter projects -- migrating from Vantive to Remedy. As an IT manager, basic project management fundamentals will enable you to guage how a project is progressing, and whether or not you have the right resources, adequate amount of time, or proper budget for proceeding with the project. Again, this is an area that free training and documentation can be found on the Internet.
Overall this article covered some of the critical points to being a great IT manager. Some others that I would add would be:
1. A great listener.
2. A motivator.
3. Top-notch communications skills.
4. Good writing and presentation skills.
6. Seeks challenges.
7. People person (not reclusive).
8. Possess leadership qualities.
9. Not afraid to take a stance to defend team.
10. Eager to succeed.
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