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What it takes to be a successful Information Technology Manager

Successful Information Technology ManagementAs an I.T. Manager of a large Insurance company for 15 years, I would like to share my thoughts on the essential ingredients for success.

The Information Technology (IT) Manager is responsible for implementing and maintaining a Company's technology framework.

The IT manager evaluates the organisation's operational requirements, researches strategies and technology solutions and architects the most cost-effective and efficient systems.

The I.T. manager needs to be an expert in many technologies – and provide direction and implement the vision. The I.T. manager must possess strong planning and organising skills, but I feel that Interpersonal skills are just as important as technical and strategic skills. For instance:

Empathy

Empathy is an unusual but important ingredient needed for success in I.T. All the programmers, project leaders, etc – have families and lives separate from work. Being aware of the individual circumstances of those in the I.T. department will make for more harmonious relationships, and foster loyalty, better communication and a great work ethic.

However, don't let your empathetic feelings stop you from making hard decisions.

Can empathy be taught? We are all born with some degree of empathy, but if it is sadly lacking, compassion training is needed.

Ethos

Ethos describes the fundamental values that characterise the I.T. department. It includes expertise, skills and knowledge, but it is much more than that. The I.T. Manager must be the moral backbone and compass. There must be fairness in decision making and a sense of involvement must be engendered.

The I.T. Manager may not have to go as far as Google with buggies, bikes and playing volleyball, but something should be done to promote a positive community feeling. A pat on the back for a job well done, or cakes on birthdays or doughnuts at teatime. The cost is small, the benefits large.

A low rate of staff turnover (irrespective of salaries) is a good indicator of a warm and nurturing culture in the I.T. department.

Communication

Is the I.T. Manager a good listener? Are body language, eye contact and hand gestures all positive? Is the verbal communication clear and concise? Is there an avenue for feedback?

Informal gatherings are often the best way of making contact with staff.

Leadership

Combine the best of leadership styles to inspire a creative vision – whether the leadership be autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire, or paternalistic. Some people have to be led by the nose, others must be given free reign.