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An effective technology team is only as good as its weakest link.  In order to optimize the team, a good manager will need to identify the strengths of each member and rely on their abilities to complete smaller pieces of complex tasks.  The members of the team should be able to communicate, check their egos and manage their responsibilities in a timely manner.  It is the responsibility of an Information Technology (IT) manager to ensure his team learns, stays on task and intercommunicates in order to provide high quality solutions.

The core of all human interaction is rooted in the personalities of the individuals working together.  Personality is the fundamental of how a person reacts to stress, delegates responsibility and achieves their goals.  Managers in any are must come to understand how individuals cope with internal and external factors in order to maximize effectiveness.  Some people react adversely to stress.  Information technology can often be a reactive industry.  IT is a profession where issues arise out of the blue and the urgency to correct those issues can mean thousands of dollars to a company.  When a person cannot be relied on to make good decisions in a crunch, the team finds they are unwilling to rely on that person.  William Cross, the CIO for Seminole Semiconductor discussed IT stress in this manner, “IT is a stressful occupation for a lot of reasons. One of the big reasons is we work very closely with computing equipment that in today’s world doesn’t fail. That’s high stress because if there are errors, they are probably ours. We also have this high desire to please others and that tends to get IT people to put in more hours and take things more seriously then perhaps another group, (Computerworld, 2009).”

A leader should know how his team members handle stress and make sure they are well trained in the areas that they may encounter failure in.  Running scenarios for support based stress issues and role playing for those situations can aid in the ability for team members to feel confident when abnormal situations arise.  IT managers should provide their team members the ability to rely on more seasoned personnel on the team for technical remediation and provide growth so that stress is minimized as skill sets develop in controlled situations.

At the core of stress in IT there is an underlying issue that many people may not see as interrelated.  The need is for proper communication to internal team members and stake holders outside of the team.  A good manager should provide an open communication path with his team.  Cross addresses this in the following manner, “You can deal with expectation by having the [worker] set the goals and the deadlines, or at least participate in that setting, rather than just dictating. One of the most effective techniques in leveling the stress is participant management — let your people participate in the process, “(Computerworld, 2009).”

Team must communicate with their members in a proactive manner.  It does not provide for a healthy team when an issue has gotten out of control and then the flag gets raised.  It is critical that the team knows to alert possible issues to one another and their manager in a proactive manner.  This is also critical for interaction with external stakeholders.  When deadlines may be missed or a technology implementation may not provide the desired the results, it is extremely important that everyone be alerted early in the process so that there are no surprises.

Ego has a good deal to do with the success of many teams.  In many instances it is the ego of a manager or a team member that provides the driving force behind success, but in a good many instances that same ego can be counter productive.  “The ego wants to look good, be right, not make mistakes, not admit failure, manipulate, and control or appear in control at all times, (eetimes.com, 2009).  When an ego gets out of control on a team, the team suffers.  This can be either from the manager or the players on the team.  IT professionals are often people with large egos and they can often find it difficult to check their egos and participate as a team.  A manager must focus on promoting a lack of self within the team.  The more a team is willing to sacrifice for one another, the more successful the team will be.

IT managers must also focus on the performance of the team and drive metrics that promote team accomplishment and interaction with one another.  A manager in IT is often promoted from within a team.  These managers have found that running a team of people is difficult because the people on the team are not as skilled as they are in technology.  Often managers find themselves jumping in and doing tasks that others may take longer to perform.  Rather than being a multiplier, the manager has become a bottleneck.  A manager needs to set realistic and well communicated deadlines in order for his team to learn, grow and gain confidence in their ability.

By providing realistic deadlines with firm deliverables, a manager provides his team with the ability to forecast their tasks and needs.  When issues are communicated, the manager should push for the team members to work together to solve their own issues rather than jumping in and doing it themselves.  “Have strategic checkpoints that tell you how each person is progressing with their work.  Take close interest in the checkpoints, but let people get on with their work between them, (team technology, 2009).

If an IT manager focuses on commutations, team egos and delegation of work; the team can be very successful.  It is critical that managers understand how to get the most out of their team by building them up and mitigating risk.  By emphasizing commutation and selflessness within the team, managers allow their team to build a strong relationship.  At that point the manager can delegate tasks and check to make sure that these tasks are executed in a timely manner with a high degree of quality.

References:

Q&A: Type A personalities, long hours contribute to IT stress, says CIO. Computerworld. Retrieved July 5, 2009 from http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9002504/Q_A_Type_A_personalities_long_hours_contribute_to_IT_stress_says_CIO

Your ego is a performance killer. Eetimescareers.com. Retrieved July 5, 2009 from http://www.eetimescareers.com/articles/in-management-your-ego-is-a-performance-killer-1615-article.html

Delegating Without Losing Control. TeamTechnology.co.uk. Retrieved July 5, 2009 from http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/soft-skills/project-management-training-part7.html

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