Managing a team can be challenging. It can be particularly challenging when managing a tech department if you aren’t extremely knowledgeable about tech yourself. You may have trouble understanding their point of view and their frustrations.
Here are a few tips to help you, whether you are having tech employee issues, or just want to make sure that you’re running the team to the best of your ability.
1. Have as many details as possible prior to assigning a task.
Most IT people do not enjoy brainstorming sessions with other departments and would rather come into the game a little later. It is not one of their strengths. There can always be exceptions, of course, and they do want to be asked for their technical input. However, they are much happier when the details are gathered for them. They can’t read your mind, nor that of the Marketing Manager,so have as much information about what is needed as possible when assigning projects.
2. Make sure all necessary access is acquired before project work is started.
Make sure your tech team has access to any files, sites, etc., that they will need. Make sure they have logins and/or passwords when required. You also want to ensure other parties involved have the access they need. If time is spent trying to figure out who needs access to what, and why some people can view a file and others can’t, you’re going to start the project with aggravated employees on both sides.
3. Understand and enforce IT policies.
As the tech department manager, it is your job to make sure others realize the importance of IT policies. These can seem like overkill at times, but they are there for a reason. If the policy is to change your password every six months, you need to make sure other managers are also enforcing that. Use a VPN when traveling; remind others to do the same. You are the voice of IT in executive situations, and if you make light of the rules, so will others. Your team will notice and realize that you are not on their side, and possibly as see you as unintelligent for your inability to observe the importance of the rules.
4. Discuss and agree on realistic timelines.
It may be tempting to tell the CEO what he wants to hear when he asks, “When can this be done?” But make sure you truly know the answer to that before you give it. Whenever possible, discuss timelines with your tech team. You might need to push them on being realistic as well. If the CEO wants a project done in three months, and your tech team is telling you it will be 12 months, neither of those are probably accurate. Walk your tech team through the steps, let them tell you why, they may realize during the talk that they overestimated. Ask them what can be done to get it done faster. Can you bring in an intern to cover some of the lower level items? Can you put off another project, or allow your team work from home days with no distractions? Work with them, and come to a reasonable and realistic timeline. Once you have that, communicate it with the CEO and other affected parties. Make sure they understand the timeline and why it is as such.
5. Communication is key!
This refers to alllevels of communication. You want to make sure they understand what they are being asked to do. Don’t assume there are picturing the same order-entry interface you are. Communicate all expectations. Also, make sure you understand what they need of you. Don’t assume you get it, verify. This also applies to communication throughout a project or task. If customer expectations change, if you get additional feedback, or if unforeseen changes arise, communicate them as soon as possible. No, your team won’t be happy if they have to undo work they’ve already completed, but it’s much easier to undo one day of work than one week. Communicate changes and make sure you understand the impact of those changes.
Looking for more ways to make your tech department run more smoothly? Connect with us at Aspirant to learn more.
Phil is Aspirant's Technology Director with a focus on providing enterprise-grade solutions. His 30 years of experience have given him the opportunity to work across many markets, industries, and applications. Phil is leading a team of skilled web and mobile developers building strategic solutions for our customers.