3 Lessons for IT Managers

Posted on in it_management

"No company can flourish in an environment that penalizes experimentation or trust."

Long ago, I read an article called "3 Signs of a Dysfunctional Company". While it primarily targets CEOs, the lessons within are just as relevant for IT managers. Here’s a modern take on these timeless principles.

1. Aligning Actions with Words

Original Insight

"The discrepancy between what leaders say they want and what they really want often causes company dysfunction. You can't ask employees to do anything you're not willing to do yourself."

Modern Perspective

This truth remains unchanged. There are two key aspects to this lesson:

Lead by Example

You can’t expect your team to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. This isn't just about being willing to get your hands dirty; it's about adhering to the same standards and procedures you set for others. For instance, documentation is a crucial part of our engineering tasks. If you neglect it, your team is likely to follow suit.

Effective Communication

Miscommunication between leaders and team members leads to mistakes. We often assume our instructions are clear, but they rarely are. Regular check-ins and feedback loops can help ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Trust and Responsibility

Original Insight

"…put your trust in the people you hire and give every employee sincere responsibility. Hands-on, my-way-or-the-highway managers won't find this easy. But that's how the business gets better."

Modern Perspective

This principle is more relevant than ever, especially in a world where remote work and decentralized teams are becoming the norm.

Empower Your Team

Trusting your team with responsibilities encourages growth and innovation. I’ve historically been the person who prefers to stay up all night solving problems myself rather than mentoring someone else. However, nurturing your team members and helping them grow as professionals benefits everyone. Showing distrust stifles growth and innovation.

Promote Autonomy

By empowering employees to take ownership of their work, you create a more engaged and motivated team. This doesn’t mean abandoning oversight, but rather fostering a supportive environment where team members can thrive.

3. Providing Direction

Original Insight

"Company leaders must set the mission and the agenda. A hands-off policy can only go so far."

Modern Perspective

Even with the rise of agile methodologies and self-organizing teams, the need for clear direction and leadership remains critical.

Set Clear Milestones

Your team needs direction. Without clear milestones and deadlines, you can’t expect them to meet your expectations. A hands-off approach can lead to ambiguity and, ultimately, failure.

Balance Guidance and Autonomy

While it’s important to provide direction, it’s equally important not to micromanage. Find a balance where you set clear expectations and allow your team the autonomy to meet them in their own way.

Conclusion

The insights from the article on Microsoft Business for Small and Midsize Companies are timeless. Aligning actions with words, trusting your team, and providing clear direction are foundational principles that apply to any leadership role. As IT managers, incorporating these lessons into our daily practice will help foster a more effective and motivated team. Remember, no company can flourish in an environment that penalizes experimentation or trust.

By modernizing our approach to these principles, we can navigate the complexities of today’s tech landscape while building stronger, more resilient teams.

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