TechRepublic members have been discussing the pros and cons of having centralized management for network administration, help desk, and other IT-related resources. In one post, TechRepublic member Calvin Webster, a network/systems manager, said that it only makes sense for these departments to have one manager—but he cautioned members that organizations need to select someone with the right qualifications to make the interconnected departments work together successfully.

“Network/systems administrators tend to make better IT managers since they usually have a wider scope of expertise and deal with people in many different disciplines from day to day,” he said.

Although net admins generally do have a broad range of technical know-how, they must develop a number of additional skills to grow into good IT managers. TechRepublic has offered several articles that provide good advice for up-and-coming managers. Use these resources to develop your management skills and face the challenges that come along with new opportunities.

Become customer-centric
Webster said businesses would be wise to select an IT manager who is customer-oriented and has field experience in as many of the departments that he or she manages as possible. Although field experience may be a given for many net admins, learning to change their perspective from pure techies to big-picture LAN managers may be difficult.

You can’t go on getting caught up in the details but must learn to balance the technical needs of a LAN with the overall needs of its users. You must become customer-focused. TechRepublic columnist Steven Watson wrote two articles that provide advice for making this transition:

Set high expectations and expect the best
“The effective manager gets to know his people both professionally and personally,” Webster said. “Only then can he make assignments efficiently and know how to help his people improve themselves to grow as the organization grows.”

Webster added that it’s important that employees know that you expect the best of them, and that you are genuinely surprised and disappointed when their performance falls short of your expectations. But even though these are important points to communicate, they’re not always easy conversations to have.

Watson wrote two articles that may help you communicate more easily with your staff and to keep them working for their best performances:

But what if an employee is having a problem getting to work on time—or is erratic in showing up at all? Watson provided some advice to one TechRepublic member who was having trouble addressing this issue with an employee:

  • “Management dilemma: How should you handle IT pros’ spotty attendance?”
  • Learn to communicate with your own managers
    Not only may admins-turned-managers have difficulty communicating with their employees, but their change in status may also complicate the relationships with their own managers. For advice on keeping your boss up-to-date on your team’s progress, check out this article by Molly Joss:

  • “Develop a plan for keeping management informed”
  • You’ll also want to be careful that your tech-speak doesn’t hinder your efforts to communicate about money issues. Ruby Bayan has gathered some great tips from pros in the trenches on how to secure your IT funding:

  • “Communication tactics that get your tech budgets passed”
  • Believe in your employees
    Webster offered a final piece of advice for new IT managers: It’s important that your staff members think you believe in their abilities.

    “If people feel like you believe in them, they will do just about anything to prove you right,” Webster said. “On the flip side, if people feel like you see them as a failure, they will also do just about anything to prove you right.”

    New manager questions

    As a new tech manager, do you have a question you’d like columnist Steven Watson to address? Send it to us via e-mail or post it in the discussion below.