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Technology, management, can I do both?

By yrb ·
I have worked for a startup for year and have been moving away from the technical stuff, for more management and business issue and meetings. I like keeping my hand-on and stay knowledgeable about it. My current position pushes me more toward management and I will have soon to decide the direction I want to take (it's open for me now). My big question is: How do IT managers stay in touch with technologies (Hardware, software, upgrades, troubleshooting, security) while dealing with the other business and management needs.
Any resources would be much appreciated on the subject.
Yves

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IT Management

by kedge In reply to Technology, management, c ...

For a manager keeping up to date on emerging technologies is not realistic- you have to keep good people around you and ensure that they are getting the ongoing eduction and training they need to help you make the right IT decisions.

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Amen

by tvranalli In reply to IT Management

I would love to think that I am "vital" technologically, but it's silly to think that I can do it all - to run the IT shop and to be THE lead tech. With everything we need to know now - business processes, personnel coaching, etc. - it's not possible. Couple that with the sheer number of emerging technologies and the details that they require one to know.

I've accepted that my "ballroom days are over" (to quote The Doors) and now I'm smartest when I surround myself with smart people and keep them smart through education. I think Clinton did that extremely well and if he's smart, Bush will do the same.

Tom

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You must . . .

by Cybersaviour In reply to IT Management

You must make a dedicated effort to keep up with technology and stay solid technically. Your credibility depends on it.

I stay current to command and maintain the respect of those I lead. I know first hand that technical people (the real stars)can only really respect a superior that they trust has an expert clue about what the troops do for a living. They can sniff out an 'artist' or pretender in one meeting.

Keep AN edge. Not too much. Leave that to your architects and engineers. That is why I come to this site and others. I contend the brain is a muscle. Keep her moving, or she atrophys.

Cheers all!

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Stay Technical If You Possibly Can

by coy.lay In reply to IT Management

1) The pay is as good or better. Most senior technical people get pay that is comperable to most management.

2) Technology is more fun than management. Technical tasks are more clearly identified, more accomplishable and more satisfying.

3)You are more protected from the vagrancies the Information Revolution and can actually take advantage. You can move around and work on more interesting projects, suffer less on bad ones and make more money to boot. If a manager wants to move to a new project or a new firm it takes a long time and they must really sell themselves.

4) Technical workers get to learn more. It takes at least 20% of your time to stay up with a fast moving technology for which you are professionally responsible. AS a technical expert you get to learn new things while using project funds to pay for it. Managers don't get good technical training.

5) As a manager, the success of your project is based on the competence of other people. You really have to have a GREAT bull **** alarm. Your personal advancement is pretty much based on the success of your project, not your skills and capabilities.

6) A manager needs great mentoring to get ahead professionally. Do you have your mentor(s) identified? Do you want to be like these people?

7) You can switch to management any time but swiching back is hard. A technical person will often be asked if they want to be a project manager. But an experienced manager faces many hours of training and hard work if he/she wants to establish credentials as a technical person again.

Here's the net -- The world needs more good technicians and is willing to pay for them. Management is hard, uncertain and unrewarding. Business can't protect managers from the unhappy realities of management and executive positions.

Stay technical if you possibly can. It is more fun and more worthwhile.

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Well said

by tvranalli In reply to Stay Technical If You Pos ...

Clearly, there are more plusses being in the technical arena than in management. In management, you lead (if you're good), but you aren't "doing" - all credit goes to your hard-working staff. Of course, if things fail, you take the hit.

Not necessarily a recipe for self-fulfillment.

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Very True

by MrXerox In reply to Well said

I was recently promoted to management from my Engineering position. I have made it my goal to keep up on my tech skills. I will be "hands on management". I will do the router configs,server installs etc. right along with the people I'm in command of. I look at the president of Jet Blue Airlines who gets out there and unloads bags,directs aircraft in and helps clean the aircraft. I will get more respect and keep myself sharp. DON'T EVER STOP LEARNING!! The money is in technology NOT management. Except if your president of the company.

Cheers.

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Tech V Manage

by JJ@UK In reply to Stay Technical If You Pos ...

I disagree that tech is better pay. It maybe short term, but the fact is that if you cant manage you wont move up the tree. You will get stuck and that is the end of it. A techy can get to a level but cannot surround themselves with business minded reports if they did, one of the reports will take their position. A manager can surround themselves with Techys knowing they do a great job and will not be able to remove the higher level manager !!!

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I'm not sure you are wrong

by coy.lay In reply to Tech V Manage

but I think so ;-). At this point in time technically aggressive firms are either paying techies very well or are contracting out. If they can keep you at a low wage they sure will! -- and they will try to "manage your expectations". You have to look out for yourself and be willing to move around a bit, (always taking care of your employer or client as best you can within the context of their needs, their ability to pay, and your marketability).

As for going for the big money ($150k+) in the "executive suite" you won't get there by moving over from technical unless the spot is just right. To take you into senior management without an MBA, a firm has to be small, aggressive, and fortunate. Middle management is the appropriate comparison. Know anybody managing the work of 10 people that makes over $100k? 20 people? I don't. On the other hand, good technical people with a BA in Computer Science, ten years experience and a certification in Oracle, Cisco, Sun, SAP, Peoplesoft, or some other "hot" field can make $80-$120K. Take the time you'd spend learning to manage and get a marketable certification. Learn to manage when you get older.

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Its decision time

by parsonsac In reply to Technology, management, c ...

You have a coice to make, you either want to stay at the "sharp end" of the technological boat or you want to be at the helm. It isnt possible to do both and remain effective. As a manager your orientation has to be more to the business end whilst as a technician you rely on your management to allow you to keep up to date. I agree with the other respondant in that you should surround yourself with the right calibre of people to support you in your management efforts, (budgets permitting). This will allow you to concentrate upon true strategic management.

Good luck in whatever course you steer

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Why do both?

by abi2 In reply to Its decision time

Choose whichever you feel comfortable with and good at. Remember that you can read and keep up with the latest technology in your own time but you can't do that with management. You can't do both and be good at both unless you are a relative of superman.

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