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Need a mentor

By Namco ·
I've been in IT for about 2 years, and up until last month have always had someone within the workplace above me that I can talk to about the job, projects, difficulties etc.

For the first time I am now without this, and suddenly feel the responsibilities of my job (IT manager) are simply not understood by anyone above me in the organisation. This is making my job extremely stressful, as I feel the IT systems within my organisation are a huge burden on me personally. Servers and software have become the bane of my existence as the potential disruption that would be caused by any downtime is always on my mind.

I wonder if anyone else feels that IT management is a stressful, lonely, misunderstood existence withing an organisation?

Maybe i'm just not cut out for the role? Or maybe it's the same for all departmental managers - does the FD know the difficulties of being a Sales manager? I doubt it.

This brings me to the idea of mentoring. I've actually been a mentor before, and am currently training a technician and find it extremely rewarding, but I still need a mentor myself, or at least someone I can openly and honestly discuss my role with within the organisation.

Anyone else felt this need? how did you cope?


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Everyone needs a mentor

by paul.gregg@clearsaleing. In reply to Need a mentor

I think it is essential that everyone have a mentor to provide guidance or discuss your next great brainstorm.

I found myself in a similar situation where I felt that I had few resources available internally to help me address my specific needs within our IT organization. I took two steps to fill the void.

First, I began reading everything. I expanded my reading horizons to include books on management, personal growth, ethics, and leadership. I had been staying current on the news and technology but my focus was too narrow.

Second, I looked outside our organization to find a cross-industry association of my peers. this lead me to a unique series of seminars that is helping me enormously. **** Dooley conducts the Leadership Learning Forum that is specifically tailored to IT Managers. It is a unique approach to mentoring and will help you build your external network. I recommend ****'s solution to new and veteran managers looking for leadership or mentoring advice. For more information, you can visit

Good luck in your search but know that you are not alone.

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I'm in the same situation

by pmajon In reply to Need a mentor

I have worked in IT over 8 years full-time now. Two years ago I took an IT management position that put me in charge of the entire IT infrastructure for a 300+ person company.

First off, you can't go through life wondering what might or could happen if something on your end failed and it cost the company downtime. Everytime I think of that I break out in a cold sweat. You need to be as proactive (read: cover your ***) as possible. Obviously your company can't afford to cover ALL its bases and plan for every scenario or possible disaster. (unless your the IT admin for Mobil)

Create a disaster recovery plan, partner with an IT solution provider that can help you in times of crisis, and make proactive recommendations to the CFO. Keep well read on industry news, create a test environment with a spare PC or server (Hooray for virtual machines!), and network with your peers, which means keeping in touch with people you have worked with in the past. (good for bouncing ideas off of each other). Take advantage of training whenever possible, and you should do fine.

Also keep in mind that Rome wasn't built in a day, so if don't have time and resources to start a project, don't let it eat you alive. Discuss it with your boss and always keep in the mind the cost / benefit ratios with anything you do.

Well, that's all I got. I remember feeling the same way you do when I took this job 2 years ago. I haven't been fired yet, so I must be doing something right.

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This may not help but others including myself...

by UncleRob In reply to Need a mentor

can feel the same way sometimes. The IT profession especially the boat your sitting in can definitely leave you feeling stressful, lonely, misunderstood, etc.

Coping is not always easy but it's something you just have to do. I think you mentioning that you're in the process of mentoring another individual probably does provide you some solace with your existing situation and that can be a type of remedy/therapy for your situation.

If you feel you need a mentor, you may not have the chance to be in the physical presence of someone that can provide the support you need but the internet provides you the environment to look for someone in a similar career doing similar things and maybe you can develop relationships that allow you discuss your problems and at the same time help others with problems. That being said it isn't an easy process to actually find the right people that can/will help you & vise versa but it's not impossible either - the 1st step is reaching out and making the attempt and I hope the rest will follow more easily.

I've personally been in the same situation and it can sometimes feel like a heart attack, alot of anxiety can develop real quick over the responsibilities you have and not having the support network to turn to when you need help - it's a question I ask myself often: if I'm providing help & assistance to everyone else who's helping me? The answer isn't always what you need to or want to hear but sometimes you have to learn to just rely on yourself - the funny part is once you've learned how to cope more effectively and rely on yourself as the single source of help, someone shows up in your life and you get what you've been looking for previously and learned to do without.

The learning process never ends, coping isn't easy but life is like that, just hold on with both hands and tell yourself you can meet any challenge that comes your way, nothing is impossible if you are committed to the task and put in the necessary effort & determination.

You sound like a level headed individual, the fact that you had the courage to start up a discussion on this topic speaks volumes of your character & maturity, I'm sure you'll find what you need.

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I was in a similar situation

by Tharmagon In reply to Need a mentor

I was in a similar situation. I am a database programmer/admin but ended up running a company network when the IT manager was fired. I was then told you are now running the network. I knew very little about networks and it was in a big mess (which is why the IT manager was fired) and I was all on my own, so was overwhelmed.

What I did was:
1. Read, read and read more. Read books, websites, and bulletin boards anything I could get.
2. Joined a local computer professional club to network.
3. Joined on-line discussion groups and asked a lot of questions.
4. And the most positive thing ... I found a local computer consultant who didn't charge the earth but seems to know everything. I can call him in when there are problems I don't understand or I have too much to do. I have learnt so much from that guy. I was upfront with him. I told him I need to learn and as I do I will need him less and less. He was fine with that.

The result ... I've now been the IT Manager for 2 years. Feel much more confidant. Have been told several times by the owner I was the best promotion he ever made and have had 2 large pay raises almost doubling my salary.

Don't think I am complacent though. I still have so much to learn. And still follow the same steps above. For instance I am about to install an Exchange server. Know very little about it. But I am reading and my consultant is ready to help.

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Good situation

by Namco In reply to I was in a similar situat ...


Sounds like a good situation. Well done on setting things up correctly with the consultant too. I did have a consultant for a while, however he was there before I started and the team dynamics became very strained and awkward.

In my company, one IT mngr was fired left and the other left, leaving only a trainee. I was recruited into an environment where noone had a clue how it was set up, what kind of servers, how many, who the isp was etc. 6 sites and 14 servers!

The situation is better now but the still don't really know what they have, just that it works!
A consultant paid specifically to advise you sounds great though

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wow - great responses

by Namco In reply to Need a mentor

Thanks to everyone that has responded, this thread really seems to have taken off today! Some very positive and encouraging responses, all with valid points.

Using the internet in general and specific sites like TR is a great help in this situation, and the responses from TR members are invauable. Previously, I've had understanding and experienced coaches within the workplace that have provided advice on all aspects of my career, as well as technical advice. I had an unofficial team of 3 in my last workplace.

I'm going to swallow my pride and meet up with my old boss for some brainstorming.

Ultimately, it's my new boss I need to speak to. There are a few aspects of the system that keep me up at night and he needs to know what they are so he can authorise spend to fix them.

I'm considering joining the British Computer Society with a view to finding peers to network with.

I think what I'm feeling here is the pressure of being responsible, more than the fact it's IT. Maybe QA managers, H&S managers, and sales managers can feel the same way

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Sounds like "it does not compute".

by ouvrez In reply to Need a mentor

The key to getting beyond your difficulties is empathy - and an understanding of that is important to the people with whom you are communicating.

For instance, a CEO is going to have a very strategic outlook - a vision. You don't want to discuss day to day operations with someone at that level.

A CFO will be focused on the financials - Total Cost of Ownership, Returns on Investment. This is key - financial people only accept hard dollar projections. If you say something will save the company money because it'll make the employees more efficient, you'll need to present a business case to prove it. Otherwise, it won't be accepted. Intel's I.T. department has a great white paper on this on their website.

A CIO, while interested in technology, isn't going to be interested at the same level as an network administrator. You'll need to understand the CIO's vision, concerns and priorities to achieve some kind of symbiosis.

All these people will be concerned with compliance, liability, business continuity and disaster recovery to some degree or another. The key is to demonstrate how what it is you are discussing, applies to their concerns.

As you move down the corporate ladder, people will become more concerned with less strategic, and more tactical or day to day concerns. Budgetary issues will always be at the forefront of any conversation.

Finally, to understand the Sales Manager, it?s important to internalize a couple of things:

More than any other position, the jobs of Sales Management and Salespeople are at risk. To their supervisors, what was done last month or last quarter doesn?t matter. It?s always, ??what have you done for me this month?? Salespeople tend to dislike paperwork or anything else that slows them down or takes their focus off their goal or exceeding their sales quota. They often tend to work hard at controlling their environment. Largely, I think, because so much of their professional like is really out of their hands.

When trying to persuade anyone, but salespeople in particular, remember two rules: FAB and KIS. Feature / Advantage / Benefit and Keep It Simple. Feature: Using a pass phrase instead of a complex password. My cat Ryan is 8 or I married Julie in 1997 or ESPN is channel 45. Portillo?s hotdogs are $1.69. The Advantage is that it?s easier for people to remember them because they can personalize them and they?re flexible. The Benefit is that it maintains integrity while maintaining operational effectiveness.

KIS is incredibly important. Coming up from the IT ranks, you have a deep appreciation for the technology. Much more so than the vast majority of your colleagues. Just because you?re enamored with a particular technology doesn?t mean your colleagues will have any appreciation for it whatsoever. This can be difficult to adjust to. Just remember to keep in mind that you have to tell them what?s in it for them. Does it make their life easier? Does it save them money? Is it fun? Will it increase their prestige? These are salient points.

About Outside Salespeople ? they are a particular breed. They chose that career because it offers a level of flexibility other positions don?t offer, unless you?re your own boss. It?s generally very challenging and very stressful. Yes, they may get paid well and there may be big perks but remember, if the company doesn?t have sales, the company folds, so there?s value in that. To handle the stress and the rejection, Salespeople tend to have big egos. They have to. Otherwise they couldn?t survive the position. It?s like emotional Teflon. Generally speaking, they will look to you to streamline things ? to make things easier, faster, more reliable.

While a significant part of your job is defensive in nature, keeping the good in and the bad out, it?s important to realize how your decisions impact others. I worked for one company in which we had to type the exact same data no less than four times, into four different programs, in the same computer. I had upwards of 14 passwords. Now, I am completely cognizant of the reasons and logic behind this. I?m also aware of the fact that there are reasonable solutions to these problems. These were big time wasters. Do you think anyone in my department thought the folks in I.T. had any idea as to the impact that had on our operations?

Find ways to achieve your goals while making it as easy as possible for others to do their jobs and you?ll be a hero ? especially if that isn?t the case now.

Good luck!

Jonathan Rubin

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by scottmayer In reply to Need a mentor

I don't want to come across as critical, but you misspelled organization. My advise, do your job then leave the work issues at work. Go home, relax and enjoy life.

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Organisation - spelling mistake?

by sams.internet In reply to Responsibility

He's British - that is how we spell organisation using the English version of the English language.

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by Vought In reply to Need a mentor

I am in the same position that you are I will let you know when I figure it out,

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