The role of an IT manager has many facets and responsibilities. Not only do you have to maintain databases and technology, you also have to manage other IT staff. Both of these things can pose different problems at different times.
Solving a problem, and solving a problem efficiently without repeated issues, are two entirely different things. Successful leaders and teams need to think critically about problems and apply long-term solutions, not just temporary fixes.
Ultimately, the way to measure the success of any manager is through the success of their team. You can improve your team’s success by honing your leadership skills and establishing a critical ability to solve problems.
Maintain a Strong IT Background
Keeping your knowledge of the field of IT fresh is important for any IT manager. This will help you identify potential issues and recognize what to do when problems do eventually occur. Additionally, the world of IT is incredibly fast-paced, so it’s important to continually develop your skills as processes and industry standards change.
Pursuing an IT degree can give you a firm IT foundation on which to build leadership skills. Even if you already have an IT degree, pursuing an advanced degree such as a master’s or enrolling in professional development courses is a great idea to keep both your technical and interpersonal skills sharp.
Improve Cybersecurity Awareness
One of the quickest ways to solve a problem is to anticipate them before they occur. There are several ways that IT managers can intercept problems and set up security nets to prevent them from happening. For example, sending out newsletters or holding workshops for team members can help keep everyone informed.
Holding cybersecurity awareness events such as seminars or webinars can also help you improve leadership skills, such as public speaking, and help inspire feelings of confidence in your team.
Know Your Team
Every good manager needs to know their team. This is crucial to smart delegation, which is challenging but incredibly valuable for organizational growth. Knowing your team’s strengths, weaknesses, and skills helps you create better processes and solve problems more effectively. Ways you can get to know your team as a manager include:
- Paying attention to how they take feedback;
- Observing their time-management skills;
- Measuring output time against quality over extended periods;
- Soliciting direct feedback from team members.
Knowing your team’s skills can also help you identify areas for improvement, whether through training or expanding the team. Additionally, keeping in touch with past coworkers can help grow your professional network and open the door for new opportunities.
Communication skills are just as important as technical skills for IT managers. Keeping in touch with your team, clearly explaining expectations, describing issues, and performing administrative reviews are all essential parts of an IT manager’s role. These skills, however, don’t necessarily mean you should know how to hold lectures with your team. Instead, you should be able to hold productive conversations where your team members feel heard and valued.
Joining a professional association, holding routine meetings, and soliciting feedback from your team are all ways you can improve your communication skills on the job.
Identifying and Solving Problems
Solving problems begins with identifying problems that need to be, or even can be, solved. There are several ways you can go about problem-solving, though all will involve some of the same general steps:
- Looking for root causes: Some problems have more than one cause. Looking for the root of the problem by tracing back the problem timeline can help you, as an IT manager, ensure you’re addressing the full scale of the problem. Incomplete analysis of a problem can lead to incomplete solutions.
- Communicating the problem: Even if the problem is only affecting a single team, you must communicate any problems, as well as the next steps, to the entire company well in advance. This kind of transparency helps inspire confidence and keeps everyone on the same page.
- Developing solutions: Developing solutions is a great opportunity to outsource to your team or other departments in the company. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one — and with a large pool of solutions, you can refine them down to something that will work for you.
- Implementing solutions: Implementing solutions can be as simple as changing one step in a process or as complex as overhauling operations. This will be determined by the solution you choose, the scale of the project, and the available resources.
- Measuring the results: Success for every problem or plan won’t be defined in the same way. It’s important to identify what success means to you and your company when you measure the results of your plan.
Some problems are more complex than others, so plan carefully for how much time, energy, and resources you’ll need to fully address all problems.
Monitor Support Tickets
Support tickets are an essential part of IT work and inform you about smaller or more contained problems that need to be addressed. However, recognizing patterns within day-to-day support issues can eventually point to a more widespread problem that needs to be solved. Monitoring support tickets, which tells you when problems occur as well as their source, can help you identify these patterns. For example, if problems always occur during a certain step in a process, then you may need to reroute or adjust that process.
Having an educational background in IT can help you learn how to connect the dots, determine immediate fixes, and ideate long-lasting solutions to these issues when they arise.
Develop a Plan
After determining the source and scope of the issue and your team’s abilities, you should develop a plan. This is important for adequately solving the problem at hand.
To develop a comprehensive plan, though, you’ll need to develop a strong understanding of the issue. This will help you determine how significant the issue is, how many people are needed to address it, and how long it should take to solve. From there, you can delegate teams, resources, and time to implement solutions.
Technology can help you develop and execute a plan by providing visualization tools, organizational tools, and fast team communication.
For plans to be successful, they need to be enacted. Acting out plans involves communication skills, leadership skills, an understanding of IT, and an evaluation of the problem. However, you should note that some plans have contingencies that are set in place for events that may never occur. These types of plans are just as important as in-the-moment responses, as they help safeguard the organization’s future.
Before you take action, you must understand your team’s current workload. Overloading your team, even in the name of crucial work, can cause important things to slip through the cracks. Moving around less crucial work to further due dates can be an easy and cost-effective way to let problem-solving take precedence.
Zippia projects that the global IT industry will grow at a rate of 5% through 2024. This will only increase the demand for trained IT managers to lead teams and solve problems that arise for companies. Working on your leadership and problem-solving skills, at every stage of your IT career, can help you thrive in your current role, make you a more appealing candidate for future employment opportunities, and realize your long-term career aspirations.