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First IT Manager Role

By PowerIT ·
Hi,

Can anyone give me some advice on how to approach the following areas of being an new IT manager? These areas would be the most appropriate and advice would be appreciated:

- Staff management;
- Management politics;
- Taking compnay forward into e-commece;
- Initial first day activities / concerns.

Thank you in advance.

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Technical

by Tink! In reply to First IT Manager Role

I've never managed people, only networks, so I can't advise on that aspect.

However on the technical side, you'll want to gather all the information on the network, equipment, website(s)and procedures. If they don't have it all documented, you may want to do a thorough walk-through and do it yourself. This will give you the basis to start making decisions on how to improve on things.

Remember whenever you want to implement new ideas, make sure you detail the pros/cons and present it to the execs in a clear and concise manner. I've found that they really do like things to be outlined or "spelled out". (I've worked directly under top execs for the last 10 years).

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Also remeber

by HillBilly Tech In reply to Technical

to listen to the employees under you. Most of the time there diffrence between them ( there knowledge base) can be used to solve problem. Remembering that everyone has something to bring to the table. Be open to all ideas weather good or not. Earning respect from employees is hard to do, but will pay off with hard work & the willingness to complete the goal from the employee. Try not to be a hardass but be stearn. Set goals. document everything. you will do fine.

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I had to start from scratch

by ct98 In reply to Technical

I came into my IT manager post with no documentation on the company's network. I have put together a set of documentation but I have no way of knowing if it is of industry standard. Is there somewhere that has an example of good IT documentation? I would love to see that.

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Take it slow

by JamesRL In reply to First IT Manager Role

The best way to either find your self out of a job or alienate the team you manage is to come in with a raft load of new initiatives that you want to drive through without consultation.

What I recommend is taking the time to get to know the staff. Kick it off by having a 15 minutes casual coffee or maybe a lunch. I have asked them: a) what do you like and dislike about the job and b) what do you like and dislike about the the department.

Also have a chat with your boss - surely he/she has a set of expectations. Map out a realistic plan on what new initiatives are expected, any plans for growth etc.

Keep your head low. Don't over committ. Consult alot with the staff at first until you have the lay of the land.

I learned many of these the hard way. I came into a group, brand new to the company, with a 20 year veteran who had been a supervisor, but had been demoted. So I was learning the people, the company, and the politics all at the same time.

I would look at not starting any new projects in the first 3 months. As for e-commerce, start small. Do a pilot, learn some lessons.

James

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Managing people

by tfitzpatrick In reply to First IT Manager Role

Unlike Tink, I have never managed a network so I cannot comment on anything technical (although I started out as a developer). I have, however, managed teams of up to 10 developers and I can give you some advice on staff management.

At both jobs where I was the 'new guy' taking over the role of managing a team, my first concern was not coming on too strong and alienating them. Unless you know these individuals very well, I would suggest that you start by having a group session during which you let them know what your background is. You don't need to justify to them why you have been made a Manager, but it will help them to accept you if they know what you have done in the past.

Secondly, I would have an informal session with each of your new team members and find out what makes them tick. I suggest doing this in a neutral location if possible, rather than your office. They will be more likely to open up if they feel more at ease.

Find out who the natural leaders are. This is the person or persons who you want to get to know best and develop a trust relationship with. You need to know that someone on the team can handle any situation if and when you are not available.

I like to empower my team. By that I mean let them make decisions on their own. Just be sure to be there when they need you and NEVER let a member of your team hang out to dry. Win as a team and lose as a team.

Nobody likes to be micro-managed. It is your job to direct and mentor them, but not to babysit them. Keep an eye open and always be aware of what each person is doing, but don't hover over them while they are doing it. This may sound obvious, but I have seen many new managers micro-manage their teams and it almost always ends up being a mistake.

Finally, and probably most importantly, be yourself. Senior Management obviously saw something in you that they liked and now it is time for you to shine.

Best of luck.

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A few recommendations

by DC Guy In reply to First IT Manager Role

What was the process by which you got this job? Were you promoted from within the group you're now managing? Promoted from another group in the same company? Or hired from outside?

If you're an outsider, you probably have several people reporting to you who applied for your job and didn't get it. Surely a couple of them are as well suited for it as you are, it was just bad luck or office politics. So one of the things you have to do is win over some people who have a valid reason to resent you before they even meet you.

Since the demise of the position of supervisor, management now involves a lot of first-line supervision. You have to be parent, teacher, babysitter, scoutmaster, and therapist to most of your staff, to a greater or lesser extent. In IT that extent tends to be greater because the profession self-selects for people with poor people skills, people who are more comfortable in the silicon world than in the carbon world.

Don't listen to people who tell you managers just manage and your staff simply has to learn to be responsible adults. Odds are that you won't be very successful that way. You have to also supervise. So brush up on your people skills and be prepared to spend a lot of your time listening, giving advice, solving problems, breaking up disputes, and turning raw material into responsible adults who may themselves some day be qualified for promotions into management.

How to approach your first day depends so much on the specifics of the situation. As a manager your basic duty is to see what needs to be done and do it.

Hold a group meeting and get to know the people as a GROUP. You'll see the dynamics, the relationships, the hierarchy, the various strengths and weaknesses, and you'll learn a lot about the company by the way people feel about it.

Then meet with the people individually and try to get to know them outside the group. They WILL be different people than the ones you met in the group meeting. Do this ASAP, it's your highest priority, I mean like all in the first day if it's feasible. Hopefully you have enough people skills of your own, that based upon your astute observations in the morning meeting (which you guided into directions that gave you a lot of what you needed to know), you will have a good idea of how to approach each individual.

Never forget that if everything went according to plan we wouldn't need managers and you wouldn't have a job. Most of what you do will not be planned or scripted. You have to figure it out as you go along, using your instincts and your people skills.

If there's one generic thing that I try to get into the head of everyone who works for me, it's this:

There will always be problems. Things will always go wrong. The universe is like that. I will never get mad at you because something went wrong and I won't dwell on whose "fault" it is unless somebody is just not cut out for his job. What I WILL get mad about is when you see that something might go wrong and you don't TELL me about it in advance. It's my job to prevent problems, not yours.

Finally, make a clean break from your old job. You're not a technician any more. Every minute you spend doing tech work because it's so much fun is one more minute you're going to have to stay late to get your real job done.

Yes, "people skills," "people skills," "people skills." I did tend to emphasize that a little. That's because it's the most important skill in your job.

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Great advice!

by PowerIT In reply to A few recommendations

Thank you all for your advice given to date, I really appreciate tips from everyone.

A bit of history - I got the job from being hired in from outside and I will be in charge of a small team of support staff. This job has been "created" from a business case in that it is looking forward to improve IT strategy and open new routes to market (e-commerce).

The impression is that the existing IT infrastructure is creaking and my main objectives will be to take the company forward, help manage the existing network and provide plans for moving the company forward (e-commerce, new/upgraded network, etc). Oh, and one other little thing is - they have two ERP systems that need merging from legacy servers (groan).

My experience comes from a software engineering background (3 yrs), but I feel I have excellent people skills as I used to be in retail (5 yrs) / college lecturing (1 yr) before that.

I think one of my main concerns is getting the balance right in the support staff being "on side", whilst also not being their "friend", but their boss. Equally I do not want to be seen as a draconian master barking out orders from a desk. The relationship will be interesting as I assume it may all depend on their individual circumstances and preconceptions of my role and intentions.

I am quite keen on a team / individual meeting otuside of work to break the ice. Has anyone any advice on how to approach this or experiences that have gone well / bad?

Thanks again.

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Ask them to decide

by JamesRL In reply to Great advice!

On the activity, and do it in a staff meeting. You will gain some insights into the dynamic of the team.

Until you get to know the infrastructure yourself, you will have to rely on the opinions of others. Don't play favorites - get everyone's opinion and see if you can drive them to a consensus. You have to reserve the right to review their consensus in the light of outside concerns (ie budget, other groups needs etc). But even if you can't implement what they want, the fact that you were consulting them is important.

Leadership doen't mean you make all the decisions, sometimes you just have to make sure someone is, and that they have a credible basis on which to make a good decision. My team has people I trust to make good decisions. I usually get involved to settle disputes, break ties, add a management/marketing/sales perspective. Just make sure you know about it before it becomes fact.

James

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