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Managers Must be Communication Highways

By communication, I don’t mean talking about Monday night’s New England Patriots game against the New York Jets, or perpetuating office gossip, I mean accurately and articulately conveying business-related material in an effect manner. By design, a manager’s job is to manage people. This requires telling your staff what to work on and then providing them feedback on their job performance. It also requires that you provide upper management with the status of projects, accomplishments and issues. At a department level, it’s also your role to facilitate the coordination with other department such as HR, finance and your peer departments. The bottom line is that the better you communicate, the easier it will be for you to become an effective manager. Depending on your professional area and your personal strengths and weaknesses, good communication can be a difficult thing to achieve. From an educational perspective, I went to college for accounting and computer information systems. Of the fifty classes I took over four years as an undergraduate student, only one optional elective dealt with personal communication. This was a class on public speaking. For many of us, particularly those of us in technical roles, we were told that we did such a good job as an individual contributor in our profession area, that we should take a new job (as manager) where we had no formal training, no on-the-job experience, and no formal education on proper business communication. Thus, a new manager was born. As a manager, communication takes many forms, as outlined [...]

By | 2018-10-16T19:40:18+00:00 September 7th, 2018|

The How and Why to Managing up

Managing up is one of the most important things that you must learn to do. To a large extent, the levels of management above you control your success and future at the company. If they like you, respect you, and think that you can help their careers, they will increase your responsibility, promote you, raise your pay and generally make your work life more pleasant. Keep in mind, managing up effectively does not mean kissing someone's backside, sucking up, brown nosing or what ever other cliché you would like to use. Effectively managing up is about the following: • Communicating news, status, issues, successes, and needs to your manager • Gaining the trust of your manager in regard to decision making, team leadership, task competency, and other related items • When appropriate, standing your ground for an important cause, issue, team member need, or customer need • Producing quality work • Being responsive to all levels of management as requested or as business necessity requires • Meeting your deadlines It also means that if your boss needs a report by Friday, get it to him/her on Friday, or Thursday if you can. If you need additional resources, do your homework and clearly explain why you need them, how much it will cost, and its return on investment (i.e. better analysis, faster service, cost savings, etc.) Managing up is also the art of using your boss to help you get things done. Generally speaking, if you have good ideas that your boss likes, [...]

By | 2018-10-16T19:35:41+00:00 September 7th, 2018|

7 Interpersonal Communication Skills that Drive IT Manager Success

I’m often asked by technologists why they should spend their precious training time and dollars studying soft skills. After all, they know how to ask questions, listen to others and so on, they have been doing it their whole lives. My answer is “Rather than using gut feel when negotiating, influencing, resolving conflict and/or just talking with others, if you learn and use structured interpersonal communication processes and techniques, you can improve your effectiveness through continual process improvement.” That is to say, just like any other defined process, experience using defined soft skill techniques, allows you improve them over time. These soft skills techniques can enhance your job performance, position you for promotion and/or simply help get you the best projects and technologies to work on. This first blog post is an overview of how IT Managers and IT Executives can improve their craft and accelerate their careers using this non-technical side of their skill set. Future posts will dig into each of these topics more deeply. In the IT Management ranks, being a successful IT manager requires four primary types abilities, unrelated to the technology being overseen. These abilities are: • Interpersonal communication skills • Leadership skills • Management skills • Business-of-IT skills Today, I’d like to discuss the seven skills that fall within the “Interpersonal communication” category. When reviewing this list, it may surprise you to see that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not among them. The reason is that every successful human interaction requires a certain degree of EQ. Therefore, EQ [...]

By | 2018-10-16T19:35:41+00:00 September 7th, 2018|

Digital Transformation: Completing the Picture with IT Leadership Soft Skills

Digital Transformation (DX), by its very name, refers to how digital technologies can be used to generate new revenue streams, create new markets, increase internal organizational productivity and more. While the use of established and leading-edge technologies is, of course, paramount to Digital Transformation related endeavors, soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, change management, influence and others, are the unsung heroes of successful Digital Transformation implementations. The reason being, unless you’re using bleeding-edge technologies, the technology is often the easy part. From a CIO perspective, the biggest non-technical DX challenges are: • How IT is positioning within your overall corporate entity to drive DX • Your ability, as CIO, to drive business vision, not only technical vision • You team’s ability to be viewed as equal business partners with their non-IT counterparts IT’s DX positioning within your overall corporate entity IT’s ability to be the driving force behind the organization’s DX endeavors is based on two key factors: • IT’s Organizational Clout • IT’s innovative business and technical nature IT’s organizational clout (vertical axis in Figure 1) refers to how IT is viewed within the organization regarding its competency, importance in driving profitability, the C-Suites philosophy of technology and other related factors. The more IT is respected and trusted by their business counterparts, the easier it will be for the CIO and his/her senior team to lead the organization’s DX endeavors. IT’s innovative nature (horizontal axis in Figure 1) refers to its willingness and ability to innovate on behalf of the company, not [...]

By | 2018-10-16T19:35:42+00:00 September 7th, 2018|