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Professional Development for a new IT Manager

I’m working with an IT team to help each of them develop their professional development plans.  For most of the team, it’s really easy.  Help desk, server admins and network guys have clear technical course work and simple-to-acheive certifications to collect along the way.  It’s a path with many rewards and almost-instant gratification along the way. 

Plus, for more technical people, learning about new technology is fun!  Even better when the company pays for it.

It becomes somewhat more challenging when you start to look at the new IT Manager who leads the group.  In the past, he’s been focused on Cisco certification and his ITIL base certification.  Great – but as he’s having to get more hands-off technology, it’s time to move away from Cisco. 

When helping him develop his plan, I had to pause and think.  Most of my background and education was from the school of hard-knocks and lots of reading, not coursework or any obvious path.  So where to point this new manager? 

Clear paths include project management and business analysis.  Learning to run successful projects is key to his success as a manager.  Project Management Professional certification might be overkill – but he should definitely look at course in that area. 

Another thought would be leadership and management or business communications courses from the local college (Langara here, or perhaps the Justice Institute).  Learning how to manage and lead is possibly more important than any technical skills he might get. 

Outside of courses, there’s some great reading for new managers.  First Break All the Rules comes to mind as a must read.  Many of the CIO-level books that I’ve read can be quite applicable as well. 

What would you recommend for the new IT Manager?  What courses and learning paths would create the right foundation?

One Response to “Professional Development for a new IT Manager”

  1. Steve Hart Says:

    I would place significant emphasis on communication and team building skills. That echoes your comment that says “Learning how to manage and lead is possibly more important than any technical skills he might get”. In my career travels through the IT space I have very frequently seen technical types land in management roles without the ability to communicate, coach, mentor, etc. In many cases I can see that their passion was, and still is, hands-on technology and they end up micro-managing technical pieces, losing sight of the health of their team. Their penchant for micro-management ends up alienating team members who become disaffected, perceiving the micro-management as mistrust and a command and control management style.

    For me, poor communication has been one of the most destructive forces I’ve witnessed throughout my career. That’s obviously not just an issue in the IT management space, but throughout many organizations. But, I find that people who originate from a technical background (especially deeply technical, like some software developers) tend to lack the communication skills needed to build and maintain a high performance IT team.

    So, for sure have the new IT manager focus on leadership and communication. Also, I think it’s very important for him/her to find a good mentor and coach (inside and/or outside of their organization) to regularly assist them along the way toward being and effective leader. In some of my past roles, some of my best communication, leadership and team building lessons came from managers and colleagues who provided great mentoring and coaching.

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