While having technical skills is a must for anyone looking to enter the executive ranks of the IT industry, the fact is, no matter what your expertise in operating systems, how many observability tools that you are proficient in, or how intelligently you can talk about the pros and cons of different cloud architecturestechnical skills alone will not be enough to become an IT manager.
IT managers must also master a variety of other areas that have nothing to do with specific technical skills. To provide advice for Computer operations engineers who aspire to land a management position, this article examines the essential IT management skills that go beyond technical skills.
As we’ll see, climbing the ladder requires paying attention to the larger context of IT work – things that are easy to ignore if you spend your days “in the trenches”, working on technical problems without thinking about their impact on the organization. more generally.
1. Financial expertise
Being an IT manager requires, to some extent, moonlighting as a CFO. Indeed, many of the key job responsibilities of IT managers, such as planning budgets, identifying the most cost-effective IT tools, and negotiating contracts with vendors, require a deep understanding of cost management.
Thus, aspiring IT managers would do well to think about questions such as what direct and indirect costs arise from the tools they use, how to make the most of limited budgetary resources, etc.
2. Interpersonal skills
IT professionals are generally not known to be “human people”; on the contrary, popular portrayals of IT staff tend to portray them as geeky, socially awkward types who are much more comfortable in a dark server room than in a meeting.
Whether these portrayals are accurate or not, the fact is that the ability to work well with people is absolutely essential to succeeding in an IT role. And while interpersonal skills may come more naturally to some of us than others, there are certainly steps IT engineers can take to improve their ability to collaborate with and manage others.
Volunteer for projects that will require you to work with a team, for example. Lead efforts to build bridges with other departments. Note during autopsies how communication breakdowns may have hampered incident response efforts and offer suggestions for avoiding such problems in the future.
3. Project management skills
Virtually all IT managers are also project managers. Even though they have dedicated project managers working under them, the responsibility for ensuring that projects such as new infrastructure rollouts, team structure changes, or new tool launches ultimately rests to the IT manager.
This is why the ability to manage complex projects is an essential skill in IT management. IT engineers can bolster their experience on this front by first learning the ins and outs of the project management tools used by their organization. They can also volunteer to serve as project managers. Even taking a few project management course could be a wise use of time, especially if you’re looking to climb the ladder in an organization that values formal education and certifications.
4. Knowledge of business management
Much more than IT engineers, IT managers need to align IT success with business success.
To do this, you need to understand how businesses work and what makes them succeed or fail. Some of this knowledge involves expertise in finance, which we’ve already discussed, but business management skills go far beyond an understanding of dollars and cents. You should also learn about things like how mergers and acquisitions work, how companies grow (or shrink) over time, what are the different functions of a company, how they are organized, etc.
Focus in particular on learning how your type of business works. Its operations can vary depending on factors such as the size of the company, its vertical and its length of existence.
5. Writing and speaking skills
IT managers should expect to have to write and give presentations at least occasionally – and sometimes very frequently, depending on where they work.
If you’re struggling with any of these skills, you’ll want to invest time in improving them. If that sounds daunting, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a great writer or speaker to become an IT manager. But you should acquire the ability to write and speak clearly – and a good way to do this is simply to practice.
Conclusion: Start building your IT management skills now
From finance to project and business management, to communication skills and beyond, IT managers need to know how to do a variety of things that don’t require specific technical expertise. If you’re aiming for a career in IT management, take the time to develop these ancillary IT management skills in addition to learning the ins and outs of IT as a technical field.