Developing Your Management Skills
It’s no secret that IT departments have been some of the hardest hit by current economic conditions. Across the industry, resources are tight, and many firms have been forced to make cutbacks. Given increased belt-tightening and uncertainty with many organizations, it couldn’t be a better time to build your leadership skills.
By fostering teamwork and helping employees achieve their professional goals, you can help maintain company morale and productivity—not to mention retain top employees once the economy improves.
The following tips will help you enhance your IT management skills when your company needs your talents the most.
Fill the Communication Gap
Even the most adept managers can’t lead without first telling employees which way to go. Articulating your expectations to your staff members is key to fostering productive relationships. Begin by clarifying each person’s responsibilities and explaining how they relate to the company’s overall objectives. As employees work toward achieving company goals, evaluate their progress and provide guidance to help them overcome stumbling blocks.
Effective communication also means taking the time to listen to your staff. Sharing ideas and suggestions can result in new approaches to business challenges and can directly contribute to your company’s success. In addition, when employees feel their opinions are respected, their enthusiasm and morale increases.
Delegate, Don’t Unload
In your IT management role, you are required to find the most efficient solution to business challenges. In almost every case, this means relying on the skills of those around you. Rather than shouldering every responsibility, assign important tasks to your staff. Doing so will allow you more time to focus on strategy and high-level duties, while simultaneously providing an opportunity for your employees to grow and develop professionally.
Delegating, however, doesn’t mean assigning tasks to employees without regard to the time, skill or resources needed to complete them. If employees find projects too hard or too easy, or if they aren’t properly prepared, they can become frustrated, bored or burned out. To avoid any of these situations, work with team members to determine what projects match their abilities and provide support along the way.
Motivate by Example
As a manager, you are a role model for your IT staff. Start with your attitude: A positive outlook is contagious and can serve as an invaluable motivational tool. Equally important is aligning your words and actions. By arriving at work on time, consistently meeting deadlines and helping co-workers in need, your staff will know the same is expected of them.
It’s also essential to your credibility to keep your word, whether it’s promising employees time off or taking on additional commitments. Last, be sure to treat each person with the same consideration; bending the rules for a select few can lower your team’s morale.
In any business environment, employees need encouragement and feedback. Although rewards are traditionally linked to an increase in compensation, low-cost alternatives can prove an equally effective source of motivation for your IT staff. Highlighting their achievements in the company newsletter, taking individuals to lunch or writing a sincere “thank you” note can give your workers the boost they need to maintain current performance levels.
Enhancing your IT management skills might seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re most likely overburdened already. However, leaders who communicate with team members, work with them to meet common objectives and set an example for others not only build team morale, but they also increase their own professional stature and ability to take on bigger roles. By building a positive work environment, you can be a better leader and ensure your firm’s continued success.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and offers online job search services at www.roberthalftechnology.com.