The life of an IT manager is a whirlwind of projects, deadlines and personalities. Not only do IT managers have their own daily tasks and goals, they also have to support the needs of their employees.
It’s easy for a manager to lose track of her role as head of a team. Some managers try to do much while others neglect their team members’ abilities. In reality, managers are only as successful as the teams they lead.
You’re Not a Star, You’re a Coach
Managers who get caught up in the need to feel productive usually do the opposite. That’s why the best managers are usually focused and relaxed — they invest their time in employees so they don’t need to put out every fire. Talented workers often struggle when put in a management role with a mandate to produce more. They see themselves as star players burdened to take more shots rather than coaches tasked with developing new talent.
A manager who sees herself as a coach will change the way she judges wins and losses. She is only as productive as her team. Each team member should know how much he needs to produce and how he can improve. Coaches plan the outcome of a project while employees are in the trenches. Employees are trusting you to guide them to success, so they need clear expectations. If a project is due in two weeks, help them plan a production schedule. If they don’t keep pace, get more hands on. Your job isn’t to carry the load, it’s to give you employees whatever they need to succeed.
Create an Environment For Success
Sometimes being a good IT manager means making a tough decision. Managers across the country are having to deal with the advent of social media in the workplace. Mobile communication firm Red e App found that social media interrupts employees four times per hour. Employees spend 28 percent of the day recovering from these interruptions. It may not be the most popular policy, but managers who care about their employees’ success should advise against using social media at work.
Alternative technology can increase productivity. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software breaks down projects into manageable chunks to help employees plan progress. In World War II, the US used the critical path method to finish the Manhattan project. This technique broke down tasks and identified critical components. CRM software take this concept to the next level with tools to help employees nurture sales leads and maintain a tight schedule. Popular CRM platform Salesforce claims to improve win rates by 26 percent.
Also an open minded IT Manager will never rule out outsourcing any services that are not their core competencies!
A successful environment also promotes respect and fulfills employer promises. Intuit.com helps employers set the standard for respect with labor law posters that define rights and limit liabilities.
A manager who creates an environment with tools and processes for success will succeed despite the turbulence that comes with any project.
Re-Think Project Management
Conventional wisdom says time management is the key to high performance, but some are rethinking that principle. In their book, “The Power of Engagement,” Jim Leohr and Tony Schwartz propose a different way to measure productivity. They claim energy management is more important than time management.
Instead of attacking the day like a marathon, Leohr and Schwartz suggest that employees approach their to-do list with a series of short sprints. For project managers, that means putting immense pressure on employees in bursts and letting them relax throughout the day. Employees will rise to the occasion when the clock’s running out, then recover to regather their energy.