As you shake the hand of your newly promoted fledging IT Manager, you may become vaguely aware of a faint sense of foreboding, lingering in the background. Unfortunately, that is not a false alarm. According to a number of studies, your brand new manager, left to her or his own devices, will rack up some pretty big costs before they actually learn their new craft.
According to a Gallup study, every year in America companies lose 350 billion dollars due to having disengaged employees. The primary reason for these employees being disengaged is the lack of management and leadership capability among the ranks of their direct managers, and no where is this problem more painful and prevalent then in Information Technology. Given the strategic importance of IT alignment and strong leadership on the ability of a company to successfully execute their strategic plans, the true impact exceeds even this hefty price tag.
The problem is that the entire process of on-boarding a newly promoted IT manager lacks the foundation setting development process needed to prevent classic blunders being made again and again by these new managers. The result is a sizable portion of that 350 billion dollar per year expense.
New managers are generally promoted to their positions from the ranks of high performing contributors. The problem is that the skills, capabilities and motivations that make for a top contributor are not the same ones that result in a top manager, especially in IT. That is not to say that these high performing contributors cannot become excellent managers, but rather that they need to be given guidance and development in order to succeed. Without this initial guidance and development as a foundation, new IT managers generally run into difficulties. Some of the ways in which these manifest themselves include the following:
- Getting frazzled as they try to do all the “important” work themselves instead of delegating.
- Coming across as frantic or arrogant, mostly because they lack personal confidence.
- Coming across as a passive “mouthpiece” for their managers.
- Getting in the way of their people by sticking their hands in every pot.
- Withholding information their people need to do their jobs and/or setting up rules that require subordinates to ask for permission to do the most mundane tasks.
For the HR professional, these generally show up on your desk in the form of:
- Increase in turnover and the associated replacement costs.
- Increases in employee complaints.
Add to these the invisible problem of “disengaged employees,” who show up everyday and do as little as possible, you can clearly see how the cost begin to mount.
To make matters worse recent studies indicate the bad habits developed by new managers, if left unchecked, will stay around for a while. For example, a study performed by Towers Perrin, one of the worlds leading management and human resources consulting firms, found that managers of all tenures, across a number of companies surveyed, received low marks from employees on the behaviors that have the most significant impact on employee engagement. These include:
- Recognizing and rewarding good performance.
- Empowering employees.
- Encouraging innovation and new thinking.
- Exercising good decision making.
- Team building.
· Providing goals and directions.
- Communicating effectively.
- Global Thinking and Understanding the big picture.
- Coaching and developing the skills of employees.
- Displaying integrity.
When you consider the fact that IT is so intimately interwoven into every factor of business today, and that the successful execution of almost any company’s strategy requires solid alignment and full support from IT, it becomes painfully clear that these persistent gaps in management capability are especially harmful when they take place in IT (According to Meta Group, a leading research and consulting firm focusing on Information Technology, two out of three business deals are passed up by companies due to lack of IT readiness).
So what is the solution? Early preventive action that helps to orient these new leaders into their new roles and gives them a general education in the skills needed to succeed as managers. By early, we refer to immediately upon promotion or whenever this person begins to act in a managerial capacity (People who coach athletes have known for years about the importance of setting up and early foundation of good habits).
It is well documented that newly hired employees who are given an orientation to the organization acclimate and become productive much more quickly then people who are simply dropped into an office or cubicle. In a similar fashion, giving your newly promoted IT manager a solid orientation and grounding in their new role will result in huge returns. Namely, the reduction or elimination of your companies share of a 350 billion dollar a year expense!
Joe Santana is a Director with Siemens Business Services, Inc. a tier one global IT outsourcing and consulting company. He has 21 years of experience as an IT executive. His career includes roles as the buyer, seller and leader of IT delivery teams in fast-paced business environments.
Joe has taught and coached hundreds of new IT Managers and IT sales representatives. Joe has often been quoted in well-known industry and business publications regarding key IT topics. He has also been a guest on business radio and network television. He is co-author of a soon to be released book entitled MANAGE I.T., which is designed to help new and aspiring IT Managers to make the right career choices and gain a solid foundation in the skills they need to succeed as new managers. For more information about the book or to contact the author, email ITbook@lahaskapublishing.com.