No, I’m not suggesting that you actually start dancing around the office, especially if your ability to dance is similar to mine. What I am suggesting is that, as an IT Manager, there are specific times and key situations when we really earn our pay. Depending on how we act, these situations can get us promoted, get us fired, or cause us to be forever ignored and un-promotable.
These situations could be related to:
- Issues with an employee
- A business partner/user
- A major production problem causing great risk for the company
- A major mistake made by someone within your department
- A natural disaster
- A major company challenge that potentially brings great success
- The rollout of a new company product or service
As managers, most of workdays, workweeks, and work-years are spent performing standard processes and tasks such as: hiring new people, creating budgets, overseeing ongoing department processes, and going to various types of meetings. Then, out of the blue, a situation arises that’s highly visible, time sensitive, politically charged, and for better or worse, centered around you or your department.
When this situation arises, consider the following advice:
- Even if the situation is emotionally charged, be calm, think logically, and don’t let your emotions get the better of you.
- Just because you are temporarily put in the limelight and in full focus of senior management today, it doesn’t mean you will be there tomorrow. As a result, don’t burn any bridges with your boss or other important people. If you do, once the issue is resolved and life is back to normal, you’ll have to live with the consequences of your actions toward others.
- If you don’t know how best to react, ask the advice of someone you respect and trust. Talking through the issue with a friend has the dual advantage of potentially getting some good advice and simply the action of explaining the issue to a second person can provide insights into your own mind.
- Keep your boss and other important stakeholders informed on the situational status. They will appreciate being kept in the loop and that can pay professional dividends at a later time.
- Be proactive not reactive. That is to say, be a team player and do what’s right for the company. Step forward and volunteer to help remedy the problem. When things are back to normal, people will remember who provided help and who didn’t.
- Don’t overreach your authority. That is to say, always work through proper channels. It may feel good to swoop in, save the day, and get the credit. This approach, however, can have the consequence of winning the battle, but losing the war. By overreaching your authority and taking credit, it can cause you to be viewed as a loose cannon and someone who can’t be trusted.
- If it’s your job to act, don’t just sit back and do nothing. If you do, and the situation drags on too long, when it’s eventually corrected by someone else, you will come out looking uninterested, uninvolved, and, even worse, potentially incompetent.
In essence, careers at a company can be made or lost during times of crisis, times of great potential success, and times when decisions must be made. Acting decisively, within your authority, and correctly can cause your story to become part of the company’s fabric and folklore. Years later, when you are the SVP of something important, people three levels down from you in the organization may ask a fellow employee how you became an SVP. The answer may be “She was in a job like ours. Her real success and upward movement began when . . .”
In closing, it’s said that opportunity is the combination of circumstance and preparation. If you properly prepare yourself though training, hard work, and experience, when the right company circumstance arises, you’ll be ready to dance when the music begins.
Until next time, lead well, always communicate, and think business first and technology second.