Tag Archives: it manager success

10 Things That Make a Strong IT Manager

questionWhat do you think makes a strong IT manager?

If you are an IT manager today, you probably take your responsibilities seriously. It’s challenging work, difficult and laden with land mines along every step of the way that can cause you to fail. So, what are the keys that will help you be recognized as a successful IT manager?

Well, first of all, , , it doesn’t have anything to do with what “we” think it is. Not that our opinion does not count but when looking at whether an IT manager is effective in a company (or not), it’s all about what the client thinks.

Who is your IT client?

It’s two, potentially three groups:

  • Senior managers
  • Department managers and Users in your company
  • External clients (Other company managers if you provide external IT support services. Most do not have these clients.)

In other words, it’s business people, not technology people. WHOA, stop right there! What about IT employees, , , they are technology people – right?

Yes, and a good point. Your IT employees do get a vote in whether the IT manager is strong, but their opinions are usually skewed. The reason is that they tend to have a technology prejudice, not a business or management perspective.

For you to be viewed successful by your client (business people), you have to approach this question of, “What makes a strong IT Manager?”, from a business perspective.

Are you getting annoyed about what I’m saying with all this “IT manager success validation comes from the business perspective” mumbo jumbo?

If so, I can probably explain why. Most of us who become IT managers or CIO’s got there through the technology ranks. We were programmers, Help Desk reps, systems or network engineers, business analysts or some type of technical expert early in our career. We tend to have a technical perspective, not a business perspective, , , unless we have grown past it.

I’ve met some IT managers who literally think it’s “all about the technology”. Would it surprise you to know that in every case, their clients did not view them to be successful? The clients viewed these IT managers as “smart” and knowledgeable about technology, , , but not so good in getting them the results they needed from IT.

bubbleDon’t want to burst your bubble, , , but it’s not about the technology, , , not even close. In fact, it’s all about the business. Think about it, , , if the determination as to whether you are a successful IT manager comes from your client, they are not technical people by and large, , , they are business oriented.

If you are still resisting this business perspective being more important than your technology understanding, get over it, , , it’s very real and it’s not going to change.

Does this mean we can simply disregard the technology? Certainly not! You have to have a competent IT organization that understands the technology and can implement new technology effectively, , , but the path to IT manager success actually lies outside the technology.

10 things that make a strong IT manager, , , something for you to consider:

  1. Understands the business
  2. Quantifies weaknesses and finds a way to overcome them
  3. Develops and motivates people
  4. Makes a point to understand what’s going on in the company
  5. Identifies business needs and issues and focuses IT on them
  6. Interprets new technology offerings into specific company opportunities
  7. Recommendations are always business focused and cost justified
  8. Delivers business value
  9. Strong communicator
  10. No surprises

A strong IT manager is able to identify what his client (the business) needs and is able to focus technology resources (people, systems, and processes) on initiatives that delivers business value and helps the company thrive.

Here’s the point: A manager who is an expert on the technology can be (and in my experience quite often) the worst and least effective manager. I’ve seen this in many situations, , , what happens is that they are great technically but lack the business perspective and practicality needed to be a truly effective IT manager.

IT managers have to deal with all types of issues, the technology is just one of them. So, consider the 10 elements above, , , none of them are technical expertise.

Are you building personal capital?

Your career will only be as good as you make it. A question you should ask yourself often is, “Am I building personal capital in my company?”

Go a bit deeper with this question and ask:

  • “Am I succeeding in this job?”
  • “Do others view me as a contributor to our company success?”
  • “Does senior management realize my value?”
  • “Can I quantify the value I bring to the table?”

The personal capital you have in a company includes many things. People in a company have value and you are perceived as having more or less value than the people sitting next to you.

Obviously, you want your “personal capital value” to be perceived as very high, , , and well worth the investment in salary and benefits your company pays to include you as a member of the team.

You gain personal capital in many ways, such as:

  • Personal successes
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership successes
  • Ideas that create value
  • Attitude
  • Helping others succeed

I could list a dozen more things, , , what is important is that essentially everything you do in your company either adds or subtracts from your personal capital total.

Think about it this way. Let’s say you are the holder of 100 shares of stock in 50 companies. When you put them side by side to determine their value, you should think about several things, , , current stock price, , , potential growth opportunity, , , maybe some pay a dividend and others do not, , , etc.

Many things to think about if you had $5,000 and wanted to invest more in a few of your current stock holdings. Which stocks do you invest more in? Probably, the one you think offers the most opportunity for growth and has low risk.

Key point here, , , low risk. We like our investments to be safe investments.

When senior managers evaluate people in their company, they do the same thing to a certain extent.

First, they value you and compare the investment they have in you to other people in the company. Then they decide whether they should invest more in you for the future, , , or is it better to invest in someone else.

The people who get the most investment and career opportunity are the people who display competence and achieve success, , , their personal capital goes up when this happens.

The point
Think about whether you are adding to your personal capital balance or detracting from it in everything you do, , , even in the suggestions or ideas you present.

Do things that help your company succeed and it pays you back over time, , , focus only on yourself and it diminishes your opportunity.

10 Tips to IT manager success

Do senior managers run and hide when they see you coming down the hallway, , , or are they eager to hear what you have to say because they know it’s going to be valuable?

Which type of IT manager are you?

Here are what I consider to be the key components that lead to IT success and can help you gain respect throughout your company!

1.  Understand business needs and issues
You can’t succeed unless you know what to work on and the answer to this lies in understanding the business needs and issues of your client. This is the first part of an IT discovery process.

2.  Understand your IT capabilities and capacity
Managing client expectations requires you to know what your IT team can do and how much you can do. This is the 2nd part of an IT assessment discovery process.

3.  Create a vision
It’s important for people to know where you are headed. Once you complete an IT assessment, you can develop an IT strategy and gain agreement and commitment from your senior management team. This will insure you are in sync with company needs, , , a critical piece.

4.  Establish credibility
Doing what you say you will do not only creates credibility, , , it also creates trust from all around you. The key to doing this is to deliver projects successfully, , , on time, , , within budget, , , and that meet your client’s needs.

5.  Deliver business value
Every project you undertake should  deliver some type of business value, , , if not, you should reconsider whether it is an appropriate project to spend money and effort on. CLICK HERE to learn more about business value.

6.  Communicate in business terms, not technology acronyms
When you talk in technology terms, your clients do not hear you. They literally turn you off and begin wondering how long this conversation will last. Learn to communicate in business value and financial terms and they will not only hear you, , , they will understand what you say.

7.  Over deliver
Position your team to deliver more than expected. To do this, your commitments must be conservative with room to spare. No one gets upset when you complete work faster than expected or less expensive than forecast. See what happens when you don’t achieve what you outline.

8.  Track and communicate IT performance
Clients won’t know how your team is performing unless you share the news. Use a Project Initiatives Portfolio to track how good you are in delivering projects successfully. LEARN MORE

9. Give your team credit for success and take blame for failure
Your employees will literally walk through fire for you when you give them credit for IT successes and take the hit for failures. Coach employees one-on-one for improvements needed but take responsibility as the manager for the problem. Not only will your people respond to this, , , so will your clients.

10.  Over communicate during a crisis
Something will break sooner or later. When it does, over communicate the status of the situation and keep your clients out of the dark. If they don’t know, , , they think you are not working on their issue aggressively enough.

There are many things an IT manager must do to succeed. Executing  this list of ten tips will help you gain tremendous respect within your company.