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I've been a tech for over a decade. I was recently bumped up to IT Manager at my ~75 person company, and now manage a staff of four junior technicians of varying talent and ability. My boss doesn't want me to be hands-on, but I was "the guy" for so long, that it's been difficult for me to step back. I find myself still doing a lot of the hands-on work, especially since I don't really trust that my employees can do it properly.

What can I do to make this transition as smooth as possible? Any general management tips will be appreciated also.

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closed as not constructive by Iain Feb 28 '13 at 22:56

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Who do you report to now? CEO? a VP? CFO? –  Ward May 9 '11 at 3:30
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As alluded to in Ward's answer, you are overstaffed for your size. I would move to the following model: You, an admin person to answer phones and deal with paperwork, purchasing, invoices, etc., a senior admin, and two junior/help desk/PC admins. I would go trade the junior guy for an admin TODAY. –  tomjedrz May 9 '11 at 13:51

2 Answers 2

A few starting points ...

  • Go visit Manager Tools and listen to the "Basics" podcasts ... http://manager-tools.com/ ... start the "Management Trinity".

  • Get serious about being hands-off. Even if you have to be standing over their shoulder directing mouse clicks and commands, make them do the work. You can't act on performance problems if you never let them do the work, and you can't do your own work either.

  • Remember that you are no longer their friend or their peer. Don't get your feelings hurt when they don't share gossip or confide in you. Don't talk with them about their peers, particularly negatively.

  • Be in charge. Listen as much as you need to (or have time to in a crisis), then make the decisions. When you make a decision, be clear and confident about it. And remember, even when you accept a recommendation, you made the decision and have to be responsible for the outcome.

  • Don't allow others to blame your subordinates, and don't throw them under the bus yourself. See the previous point about decisions. You are responsible.

  • NEVER allow others to treat your subordinates badly. Your job is to get between them and office politics and between them and the wrath of other managers. If just has to yell, they yell at you. If one of your subordinates needs a reprimand, it comes from you.

  • Get involved with your peers. Build personal relationships, and get to know what is going on in their realm of the business. They need to trust you.

  • Do your best to get clear performance expectations from your boss, and ask for feedback regularly if it isn't freely offered.

Good luck .. hopefully you will have a ton of fun!

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+1 - if anyone tried to disclipline my employee directly I would go mumma-bear on them and rip them a new one –  Mark Henderson May 9 '11 at 4:23

The Director of Operations that you report to is obviously the key person you need to be able to talk to and work with. You'll also need to be sure you're both on the same page when it comes to talking to the CEO and other execs.

I don't have experience with a lot of different CEO's and other execs, but in my experience the key skill an IT Manager or CTO needs is to be able to speak to execs in a way they understand. If you don't do this well, I'd assume you can get some help/coaching from the Director you report to.

As the IT Manager, you'll presumably be the one most responsible for planning and managing the work the department does. With 4 people under you and about 75 people in the company, you should be able to keep a good mental overview of everything that's going on. As part of making plans, you'll need to communicate that overview to other managers, to execs, and to staff and to make sure you understand what they need from your department.

It obviously depends on the company and the staff and the demands on IT, but if I had 4 people under me to handle only 75 staff, I'd hadve lots of time to stay involved in projects. It's no longer your responsibility to get every detail of a new IT Project done just so, but you should be able to stay hand-on enough to keep your technical skills polished.

You indicated there's a problem with some of the techs, so a top priority obviously needs to be some recruiting.

If you aren't already a proficient speaker and presenter, you should start working on that. In almost all cases, an IT Manager who can stand up in front of group of managers and staff and explain what you're doing and answer questions is way way way way way more likely to be successful.

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I currently report to the Director of Operations/Development, who reports to the CEO. –  Avi May 9 '11 at 3:49
    
I doubt that I'll have all four employees stay long term. My boss and I both agree that the company would be better off with one senior level technician and one/two junior level guys. We currently have two junior guys, one mid-level, and another whom we just hired to replace me, but who isn't really working out. I agree that recruiting is a priority. If we could find someone to more completely take over the network administrator role, I would feel better about handing off the hands-on work. –  Avi May 9 '11 at 3:54
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@Avi .. if the mid-level is bright, then TRAIN. At that size, you are never going to be staffed such that skills and experience closely match your desires and needs. Work on adapting the staff to meet the needs, and over time you will better satisfy the company demands, and the staff will stay around longer. –  tomjedrz May 9 '11 at 13:55

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