IT support teams provide critical services that keep businesses operating smoothly. IT support teams and management continually focus on efficiency, organization and communication in order to keep their department operating effectively. Non-technical managers can learn five valuable lessons from the field of IT management.
Management Control vs. Autonomy
Most supervisors want their employees to do exactly what they’re told without any questions. These same individuals tend to consider questions to be a warning sign of insubordination, so they create stressful work environments where individual initiative is smothered and blind obedience is expected. IT managers realize that their employees may be more technically trained and skilled than they are, so they focus on creating a dialogue, setting a general direction and obtaining the resources to get the job done. They push decision making downward, which allows teams to form their own rules and standards. IT managers often give their employees a prominent role in making decisions because this increase employee engagement and empowerment. These same employees will feel they are making meaningful contributions to the organization and will be more satisfied with their careers.
Business is Not a Battlefield
Many companies are plagued by internal conflict between units, groups and departments that compete for resources and opportunities. They tend to focus on departmental problems, ignore enterprise-wide issues and deny requests for external help. This type of tribal thinking is very common, especially in large companies that are spread out in different areas. However, IT managers are used to working with employees who share common backgrounds, interest and talents. The IT world views business as a symbiotic processes where the companies that cooperate and communicate survive. IT managers strive to create teams that can easily adapt to change and quickly form partnerships. Thus, regular managers should consider the company to be a community of individuals with dreams, passions and core competencies.
The IT world is driven by constant innovation and change. IT professionals cannot succeed in their job unless they are comfortable with chaos, ambiguity and new developments. Other departments tend to have outdated systems thinking that equates change to fear and pain, not growth and opportunity. There are many self-help books written by business gurus who challenge stereotypical supervisors to stop viewing change as being complicated and threatening. Change shouldn’t be endured until the department can gradually return to the traditional ways of doing things. Instead, change is an inevitable part of the business life cycle. “Success is only possible if employees, departments and their organization embrace new ways of doing business,” said Critical Neworking.
Empowerment vs Automation
Many employees fear technology because of concerns over job security and employee value. New technology may cause processes to become outdated and reduce labor demand, but these create new opportunities for professional development. Similarly, many supervisors follow the authoritarian view that technology is the best way to increase management control and employee productivity. To accomplish this, they prefer to use centralized computer processes that antagonize end-users. While technology should be used to automate processes, it should also empower employees to perform their jobs faster and save more energy. Supervisors must persuade employees that while technology may result in tasks becoming obsolete, it will create new opportunities for career empowerment.
Continual Professional Development
The IT world revolves around certifications and mastery of new technology standards. Managers should similarly encourage their employees to develop their skills and expand their interests through offering training and career planning opportunities. This will increase employee loyalty and job satisfaction in ways that a traditional raise or bonus cannot. Related to this, managers should provide informal and interactive employee performance more than just once a year. These personal evaluations help managers stay in touch with individual goals and motivations. It also helps to increase quality and productivity.
When regular employee teams work like high functioning IT teams to accomplish goals, there will be higher levels of personal and professional satisfaction.