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DOWNLOA 10 things you should know about being a great IT manager

By Bill Detwiler Editor ·
IT Managers can easily get caught up in day-to-day operations and activities and lose sight of important management behaviors. Whether you're a new or seasoned manager, the following suggestions can help you be a great IT manager.

Download and review the list:

Then, join this ongoing discussion and let us know if this download provides helpful information and if there's anything we can do to improve the document's format or content. You can also share you favorite IT management tips. What characteristics make a great IT manager? Do you have an IT manager horror story to tell?

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by angry_white_male In reply to DOWNLOAD: 10 things you s ...

Excellent! Required reading for every IT manager!

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A word from a human resource

by jkameleon In reply to DOWNLOAD: 10 things you s ...

> 1) ... If your budget is tight, explore free regional presentations and workshops,

Don't. It's a waste of time. Such presentations are no better than infomercial.

Worst of all: Everybody knows it's a cheap trick.

> 1) ... set-up in-house training

That's better.

> 6) Team of techies... no problem. Mixed team of techies & administratives (finance, management, ets)... Ouch! It can't work, cultures are just too different, too incompatible. IMHE, it's better to have lots, and lots, and lots of layers of IT management in between.

The rest of the download: Sounds great, but it's much easier said than done. IT managers posessing at least some of theese qualities are VERY few & far between.

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Thanks for your comments...

by JaniceW In reply to A word from a human resou ...

Thanks for your comments. I have been to a couple of free regional presentations and workshops which did give you some valuable information. Granted, you have to be willing to sort out the infomercial from the valuable tidbits, but they can be there. I've left some with quite a few bags of tricks.

I'd also be interested to see what others have to say about mixed teams. Sure the cultures are different, but that's one of the things that makes them valuable around here. We do it here with some great success. I'd respectivefully have to disagree that lots of layers of management is better. I've seen that fail more often than trying to learn and understand one another's culture - a far more valuable experience IMHE anyway. What about others?

I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of the article, its a shame that these qualities are so few & far between.

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Some questions for everyone....

by JaniceW In reply to DOWNLOAD: 10 things you s ...

I hope you enjoyed the download and thanks for the great comments thus far.

In a previous reply, I mentioned that I was sorry to hear such qualities are few & far between in IT managers (at least as far as the one reader was concerned). How do other people feel about this? Is it truly that hard to find a manager with these good qualities in IT? Does anyone have any experience with non-IT managers - are they any better?

One thought that crosses my mind is that a lot of IT managers have typically not spent a lot of time studying management and leadership. Their focus is perhaps entirely too technical. I tend to approach management as a relationship-building job first and a technical issue second. (User services background - go figure!)

Please share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

Janice Ward :)

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Good Efforts .....

by mahanteshbp In reply to DOWNLOAD: 10 things you s ...

It is definately a usefull information. Keep doing this kind of activity..

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Good Article - feedback

by Greg Pearson In reply to DOWNLOAD: 10 things you s ...

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.
5. Confident.
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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