The Real IT Crowd: Finding a Valuable IT Leader

August 16, 2017
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The long-defunct yet cultishly popular British comedy series “The IT Crowd” can teach modern companies quite a bit about their IT departments Usually, IT teams are dramatically removed from the regular goings-on of a business, and its individuals are rarely beloved by the rest of a company’s employees.

The long-defunct yet cultishly popular British comedy series “The IT Crowd” can teach modern companies quite a bit about their IT departments Usually, IT teams are dramatically removed from the regular goings-on of a business, and its individuals are rarely beloved by the rest of a company’s employees.

Dealing specifically with the installation and upkeep of the company’s various devices and networks, IT departments have periods of intense activity and responsibility interspersed with the opposite. Finally, highly specialized IT professionals are regularly lead by a manager who has absolutely no experience with IT.

Though IT managers may not complete IT projects, the companies with the best IT departments understand the value of placing IT-savvy leaders in those roles. If you are looking to fill an IT leadership position at your company, here’s what you should look for.

Find Someone Who Has the Skill

IT is much closer to a trade skill than any of the other professions in your office. Where other employees may need the ability to solve problems and think creatively (which traits can be earned through a variety of degree programs) IT requires special training in computer sciences. IT projects need specific knowledge and experience to complete. Therefore, you probably would avoid hiring someone for the IT department with no background in computers. Yet, many companies hire such unskilled managers to supervise IT workers.

At the very least, IT managers should have a degree or two in the IT field, which allows them to communicate with their subordinates effectively regarding their highly technical projects. However, the most valuable training for an IT manager is a Master’s in Technology Management. These programs instruct students with an IT background to become being excellent leaders, which means your IT department can flourish with the best of both worlds.

Find Someone Who Can Lead

Not every IT genius makes a good leader. Admittedly, it makes more sense to place a proven manager as head of the department than to slot in any proficient IT worker. It is likely that most of your current team has the gumption to fill a leader’s role. Thus, promoting the most productive worker in your current IT team probably will not yield any promising results.

Instead, an excellent IT manager should feel comfortable in a leadership role and provide the guidance the department needs to succeed. Namely, an IT manager should be:

  • Transparent. He or she should be direct to both staff and bosses.
  • Mature. He or she should be able to regulate her emotions, no matter the situation.
  • Positive. His or her energy and attitude should always keep the team motivated.
  • Accountable. He or she should be honest regarding both successes and failures.

Find Someone Who Challenges the Team

Gartner, a technology research firm, has a reasonable model for the development of effective IT departments:

  • Level 0, Survival: Workers have no organized focus on IT processes or projects.
  • Level 1, Awareness: Workers realize the importance of infrastructure and are beginning to take action.
  • Level 2, Commitment: Workers organize under management and focus on improving customer experience.
  • Level 3, Initiative. Workers provide efficient and quality service and implement proactive processes.
  • Level 4, Service Alignment. IT teams function like a business, becoming entirely concerned with customer satisfaction.
  • Level 5, Business Partnership. The IT department becomes a trusted and integral division of the company.

Jen, Roy, Maurice, and Richmond of “The IT Crowd” are obviously at Level 0, and most competent IT departments hover around Level 2. However, there remain three further levels of improvement which IT teams can attain under proper leadership.

Find Someone Who Can Communicate

Those highly skilled in IT sometimes display characteristics true to the stereotype: outstandingly intelligent but cripplingly introverted. When IT departments are tasked with exclusive projects, these characteristics are more than beneficial, but when IT workers are called to interact with the rest of the company, an inability to communicate causes major problems.

Thus, it is perhaps most important that IT managers be able to interact with the rest of the company in ways their team cannot. Just as good leaders must be transparent with their superiors and subordinates, they musts feel comfortable speaking with less-than-knowledgeable workers in a clear and direct manner. Additionally, they should be able to employ positive language in any situation, assuaging fears and anger regarding technological malfunction.

An IT manager is more than a babysitter for a disorganized band of computer geeks — he or she is a well-trained, quality-focused leader. Your company can only benefit from the proper someone for the job.