Group Theory

Common Mistakes/Tips for IT Managers

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Research is undoubtedly the single greatest tool that I use, no matter the situation. So, as I just got promoted to IT Manager, I figured I would navigate through the many internet forums, blogs, and websites that I am active in to search for common mistakes that IT Managers make, as well as tips for ensuring that I am successful in my new position. Below, is a collection of some ideas, suggestions, and areas to avoid as an IT Manager.

  • Make sure you strive to understand the business you’re supporting. You think you know what the company does, but do you really? This understanding is key to making IT a strategic enabler, not just a cost center.
  • Many get so focused on the tasks coming up the chain and forget that they are managing people. The most effective managers will be able to balance the project and performance driven nature of the field with maintaining a happy and healthy work environment for their employees to have the most productive and positive workplace.
  • The basis of the IT field is setting expectations and communicating if they need a reset; failing to ensure this occurs can be disastrous.
  • Managing budgets and stakeholders poorly.
  • Forgetting where they came from, playing politics on a level that is out of their league.
  • Understanding operational needs and human resource limitations. Finding efficiencies with existing staff and systems to free up time on projects.
  • Maintaining a solid Sysadmin/Support skill set.
  • Having general technical knowledge is still desired, but you can focus on things like project management courses and ITIL. You can find a ton of PM training online and buy books and sit in for ITIL exams.
  • Failing to introduce new technology and practices to the workplace.
  • Due to the fast growth of technology, it is critical to stay ahead of the curve. Being involved in forums, reading tech news, and conversing with your peers are all excellent methods of learning technology from the past, present, and future.
  • Understanding confidentiality, termination checklists, and legal agreements for employees who are new or leaving can prevent a magnitude of potential problems.
  • IT meetings, whether company-wide or not, can be an exceptional tool in keeping your team motivated. Too many or poorly planned meetings can have an adverse effect, so be sure to carefully design each meeting’s materials for the task at hand.
  • It doesn’t matter if you are a die-hard Microsoft fan, a great IT Manager needs experience in all brands, models, and operating systems.
  • Failing to add/renew certifications for yourself and your team can create an atmosphere which doesn’t prioritize aggressive learning.
  • Document everything you do and train others when possible so they can take over easier tasks while you move on to solving more significant problems; in short, make yourself valuable instead of indispensable.
  • Understand and keep note of the skills of each member of your team. Just like in the Avengers (yeah, I’m going there), every hero has their strengths and weaknesses, making them ideal for certain situations, and less ideal for others.
  • Many IT Managers are known for having degrees in business or management, and fail to have much knowledge of IT-related duties. For your subordinates to respect you (and to be a true leader), it is vital to at least have a general understanding of each IT role, such as coding, web dev, help desk support, and hardware installation/maintenance.  If you lack skills in any of these areas, don’t be afraid to shadow them for a while.
  • Be the first to arrive at work and the last to leave. Setting the right example for your peers is vital to cultivating both their skills and work ethic.
  • One of the most limiting attributes of any manager is accessibility, or the lack thereof. Your team should have no problems with contacting and discussing anything with you. Open up the floor for suggestions and addressing issues.
  • Arrogance, not asking for help, and failing to recognize the skill in your team members due to your self-inflated ideas, all need to be avoided. No matter the job title you have, be aware that even rookies can have skills you do not possess.
  • Above all, take a second to ring out the water from your mental sponge from your previous job to better allow new information and skills to enter in your role as IT Manager. Don’t forget where you came from, and what made you into the IT professional you are today. And finally, be aware of the changing political and social climate. Be mindful of other’s feelings, religions, genders, and personalities; it is our differences that make us beautiful.

Good Luck!

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