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How do you manage IT pros?

Moved Blog
  • I’ve just read this article with a great deal of interest. Whilst it’s not “perfect” in the way it’s written, it certainly does a very good job in explaining the IT function to a tee - and despite having been written in 2009, it’s still factually correct and completely relevant.

    This is my interpretation;

    The points made are impossible to disagree with. Yes, IT pros do want their managers to be technically competent - there’s nothing worse than having a manager who’s never been “on the tools” and is non technical - they are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard when it comes to being a sounding board for technical issues that a specific tech cannot easily resolve.

    I’ve been in senior management since 2016 and being “on the tools” previously for 30+ years has enabled me to see both the business and technical angles - and equally appreciate both of them. Despite my management role, I still maintain a strong technical presence, and am (probably) the most senior and experienced technical resource in my team.

    That’s not to say that the team members I do have aren’t up to the job - very much the opposite in fact and for the most part, they work unsupervised and only call on my skill set when they have exhausted their own and need someone with a trained ear to bounce ideas off.

    On the flip side, I’ve worked with some cowboys in my industry who can talk the talk but not walk the walk - and they are exposed very quickly in smaller firms where it’s much harder to hide technical deficit behind other team members.

    The hallmark of a good manager is one who knows how much is involved in a specific project or task in order to steer it to completion, and is willing to step back and let others in the team be in the driving seat. A huge plus is knowing how to get the best out of each individual team member and does not deploy pointless techniques such as micro management - in other words, be on their wavelength and understand their strengths and weaknesses, then use those to the advantage of the team rather than the individual.

    Sure, there will always be those in the team who you wouldn’t stick in front of clients - not because of the fact that they don’t know their field of expertise, but may lack the necessary polish or soft skills to give clients a warm fuzzy feeling, or may be unable (or simply unwilling) to explain technology to someone without the fundamental understanding of how a variety of components and services intersect.

    That should never be seen as a negative though. A strong manager recognizes that whilst team members are uncomfortable with being the “front of house”, they excel in other areas supporting and maintaining technology that most users don’t even realize exists, yet they use it daily (or some variant of it). It is these skills that mean IT departments and associated technologies run 24x7x365, and we should champion them more than we do already from the business perspective.

  • Absolutely you can be very good at technique and not be good at telephone support with a customer on the phone
    Each element of a team complements each other and you have to know how to take advantage of it, as a good manager or head of an IT department should do.

  • @DownPW yes, exactly my point.

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