Best Practices for Leading Your IT Department

it manager best practices Managers can generally be sorted into two categories: good and bad. 

The bad ones are, unfortunately, pretty memorable. Whether it was the way they treated you, how they structured the department, or a general lack of leadership skills, you can probably pinpoint one or more things they did to be a bad manager. 

Good managers can be just as memorable, and you can likely pick out a couple of reasons why you enjoyed working under them. However, trying to embody these characteristics – and not the negative managerial traits – is a bit more tricky. 

Whether you’re a new or veteran IT manager, implementing practices that increase department morale and productivity isn’t always so straightforward. 

As The KR Group’s technical services manager, I’m continually looking for ways to manage and motivate the team of managed services engineers. Here is some of the advice I have for being an effective manager:

  1. Humility
  2. Desire to grow
  3. Share information
  4. Be culture conscious
  5. Micromanaging is toxic
  6. Remember you’re still the leader

Of course, you’ll always want to take into account the overarching culture of your company as a whole and tweak the below information to fit your goals for managing. 

Humility Is Key

In IT, knowledge can be power. But as every Spiderman fan knows, with great power comes great responsibility. 

While you may be in charge of the most, it doesn’t mean you know the most. Of course, you can claim otherwise, but if it’s untrue, your engineers will undoubtedly see right through it – and lose respect for you. 

Understand your weaknesses and how the other members of your IT team can fill in those gaps. 

Desire to Grow

With IT’s fast-paced, ever-evolving nature, being unwilling to learn about new solutions or processes will make you irrelevant quickly. it manager best practices

As a manager, you need to foster this quality within your department. One way to do this is to tie growth to quarterly goals. 

You’ll want to individualize these objectives for your different engineers. 

  • If you have an engineer who has primarily focused on a single area of your IT environment, consider setting up cross-training to broaden their knowledge base. 
  • If you have an engineer who mainly does solo work, set a goal related to a group project. 
  • Or, if you have an engineer who has been part of multiple collaborative efforts but never led one, put them in charge of a project.

And remember, the desire to grow is a trait you should require of your engineers and yourself. 

Share Information

A common struggle across IT departments is the tendency to silo information within the group of engineers. 

It could be subtle where engineers have subconsciously fallen into a niche within the department. However, it’s often deliberate withholding of information so an engineer can be the sole expert in a specific area. 

Either way, this practice can be detrimental to the effectiveness of your department. For example, what happens if that engineer is suddenly absent when there is a problem with “their” domain of the IT environment. 

Part of nixing this tendency goes back to encouraging humility throughout your IT department. 

As the IT manager, you set the tone, so communicate with the engineers and don’t be afraid to ask a question if you know you aren’t the expert on the matter. 

You can also reinforce humility and information sharing by making cross-training a standard in the department. You might ruffle a few feathers initially, but long-term, it is what is best for the health of your department. 

Be Culture Conscious

it manager best practices Being a good manager doesn’t exist only inside the walls of your building. Culture is imperative to creating an efficient team, and it often involves organizing team outings and bonding opportunities outside of work hours.  

When thinking about culture, here are a few current statistics to keep in mind: 

  • Nearly 70% of employees would work harder if they received more recognition.
  • Having highly engaged employees can lead to a 202% increase in performance.
  • Team leaders have the highest impact on company culture.

Without a positive culture (and solid leadership behind it), not only does morale suffer, but employees are less likely to be engaged and retained. 

Of course, this has become tricky with the increase of remote work, and in IT, remote work is possible and convenient for many positions. So, you’ll have to find creative ways to promote culture within your IT department, but in the end, the statistics prove it pays off. 

Micromanaging is toxic

Along with thinking of ways to build a positive, engaging culture, you must ensure you’re not undermining it. 

One of the quickest ways to have disgruntled employees is by micromanaging them. 

If you’ve had the misfortune of being micromanaged by a supervisor, no explanation is necessary for why this trait has no room in management. 

It annoys employees, destroys trust, and leads to burnout for all involved. 

You’re Still the Leader

The trickiest part of all the do’s and don’ts listed above is keeping each piece of advice in mind while still holding the leadership position. it manager best practices

You don’t want to come off as authoritarian. However, there needs to be a sense of who’s in charge at the same time. 

Of course, it’s fun to have a laid-back, friendly culture. Yet you still need to let your team know that you expect productivity and professionalism, and more importantly, you’ll take managerial responsibility for issues within your department.

So What Does Effective IT Management Look Like? 

At the end of the day, a good manager wants their employees to succeed and, in turn, the whole team.

The role of a good manager includes many hats, such as organizer, motivator, accountability partner, etc. To guide and encourage your employees to be the best team members they can be, here are some qualities you should embody: 

  • Humility
  • Desire to grow
  • Share information
  • Be culture conscious
  • Don’t micromanage

While trying to relate and build rapport with others in your department, make sure you’re still carrying the title of responsibility. 

We know all the hard work that goes into being an IT Manager. The good news is that you aren’t alone in finding the best way to juggle that responsibility. One of the ways to stay connected is to sign up for The KR Group’s monthly newsletter to stay up to date on what is happening in other IT departments.

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