What Skills Are Needed To Be An IT Manager?

What skills do you need to be an IT manager?
The skills you need to be an IT manager are a mix of leadership, soft and technical skills. The most important of these is the ability to harness the diverse talents of people under your command. Soft skills or employee management skills hinge on how well you can communicate with executives and IT staff to set up a culture of accountability so issues and even crises now commonly occurring are effectively addressed. Meantime, technical skills allow you to identify which employee or team fits a certain task well, ensuring that essential and crucial projects are delivered in a timely manner.

While it’s easy to assume that a sensitive IT manager position demands that technical skills are the be-all and end-all, you will find that deep technical skills are only one aspect of the position. In fact, technical skills grow less in importance as you acquire the power to choose the most technically proficient from among your IT department people so you don’t have to learn them yourself. Instead, how you juggle your own interest, the interest of the company, the employees under you and the interests of your clients will determine how long you can keep your job or be next in line for a promotion.

In this article, we present the most important IT manager skills list that will help you compete for the position better. By polishing your IT manager job description, you show that you have what it takes to assume such a position of responsibility. Armed with such understanding, you will feel more comfortable dealing with the necessary IT manager interview questions, the next step in your journey to assuming the position. Once you complete all the pertinent IT manager qualifications, get ready to enjoy the windfall from IT manager salary, one of the most lucrative salaries in any industry.

it manager skills

As computing technology evolves at breakneck speed, IT managers must proactively retrofit their skills continuously or find themselves pushed on the wayside by the arrival of more capable talents. Businesses are only too keenly aware that when it comes to IT, they need to have the best talents around if only to minimize the damage of data breaches. Never mind total elimination, when such technology behemoths as Facebook and Google could be hacked by internet guerrillas always on the prowl for their next prey.

Thus IT managers need to be consistently in the know of the most current security threats making the rounds across the world. Such knowledge allows them to alarm their most capable IT keepers and prepare for the worst at least by updating their IT security software with the latest definitions or totally keeping critical data assets away from the network, making it impossible for even the best hackers to get to them.

Dark as the scenario could be, it’s one of the best ways that IT managers can keep their post. Otherwise they face the ax or the courts, which is worse. Especially if you are a first-time IT manager, it could mean either a dead end to your career or the next rewarding but probably more demanding position.

The arrival of ultra-sophisticated cyber criminals explains why as an IT manager, you need to carefully weigh the benefits of pure data cloud solutions vs. on-premise installation and advise your company accordingly. The harsh dictates of cybersecurity have dampened the overly positive outlook of pure public cloud adoption for data servers, shifting the interest instead to private cloud solutions.

Given this new reality, you still have to work out a way to maximize the services of the big three in cloud computing, namely Amazon, Google and Amazon. If recent trends are any clue, your best bet is to advise your company to acquire the services of multiple cloud providers to prevent lock-in and make the most of flexible pricing, newest technologies and global reach.

Skills Needed to Be an IT Manager

1. Strong Technical Skills

As an IT manager, your first tour of duty will call for a thorough inventory of your company’s IT assets, which you can easily execute with the help of solid IT management software. Your inventory should include all the company’s computer hardware systems and components, network systems and configurations, software installations and configurations. You will also do well to list all the product vendors when the time comes for you to negotiate with them down the road.

Needless to say, all these tasks mean that you should have a long and extensive background in computer hardware, software, and networking. Industries will be asking for how many years you have spent on the industry, along with your academic background, which should point to degrees in either computer science, computer programming, computer engineering, information technology or management.

Years of strong technical practice should allow you to look over your team members and assign posts and tasks that will agree with how you want to deal with daily IT operations, their capability to handle sudden glitches that are now common in the IT industry with the advent of sophisticated viruses and all forms of malware and exploitation.

2. Negotiation Skills

As an IT manager, the daily grind of your team will depend on the terms you have set not only for yourself but also for your entire team. While many companies understand how critical IT is to their overall success, they may not always know how to ensure that this department is happy and comfortable with their working conditions. It falls on your lap to seek terms that will not compromise your staff either in work hours they need to render or the kind of workspace that they will be reporting to every day.

Your vast experience in the field should have told you by now that some companies tend to set project deadlines that are simply not realistic. You need to be decisive in securing manageable deadlines that would leave you and your team some breathing space, otherwise, you are setting yourself up to see walking zombies in your midst, with your staff hardly able to get their required sleep even on their weekends. That or IT staff submitting their resignations on the fortnight.

While at it, you may also want to negotiate things like the best or at least agreeable parking slots on company-provided car park, server rooms and IT working space that do not resemble Alcatraz. In other words, keep your own staff happy if you want to achieve more things while on your post.

Your negotiation skills will also be decisive when communicating with vendors and their varying licensing requirements. Your executives might want to opt for a vendor that is bottom of your list. Here you’ll find you have to navigate through the minefield of tempers flaring and acidic language, using multiple diplomatic approaches that you have picked up through the years instead. And it will certainly not hurt your cause if you harness the power of excellent procurement software to give you better options when weighing your decision.

When it comes to seeking the best interest of your team and department, you know how critical it is not to earn enemies right in your own backyard; rather, you’ll want people looking at your team as partners rather than competition to be dealt with every present opportunity. When it comes to the realities of work, you should already be keenly aware that you can’t wait for people to count your merits and reward you handsomely based on what you think you deserve; you have to negotiate.

3. Strong Financial and Organizational Skills

The degree by which you could successfully implement your vision for your department depends on how well you prop up your team to handle any essential and mission-critical jobs, which depends on how you set up your IT strategies, delegate, and allocate the financial resources coming your way. Your first days on the job should have given you ample ideas for designing the policies, procedures and best practices that concern your IT staff.

These could include strategic guidelines for hiring, training and disciplinary measures. Your negotiation skills should help you arrange with executives the fitting budget for your department. The budget should make room for any measures you put forward to improve and innovate your company IT installations. Communicating with company executives for your department budget means you also include a list of select vendors that came out of your research, with the matching innovative solutions and prices they are offering. The best financially informed managers routinely use excellent budgeting software solutions in the market, and there’s no reason why you should limit yourself to manual operations in this regard.

4. Listen, Learn and Communicate Well

It’s bad practice in any business to set yourself or your team apart from every other department in such a way that you are creating information silo within the business. You will realize this quickly when you need the help of other departments to rally your cause. In hiring, get people that are not only technically proficient; rather, look for soft skills too.

Put a premium on how susceptible they are to listening and communicating, which will serve as your springboard to establish a transparent department with all communication channels available to anyone. You should already be adept at handling personal interactions; be perceptive and capable of listening if you want to develop the same in your staff.

With you and your staff operating on the same channel, you will find that meeting problems and deadlines are easier met. Your ability to read between the lines can mean the difference between a disorganized, disinterested, easily rattled staff and a smoothly functioning, proactive and efficiently running team. To help you get started on better communications, consider setting up communication solutions throughout the company. Not only do they foster transparent communication, they also make it more efficient, timely, and support strong collaboration.

5. Update and Continue to Be Relevant

People in positions, whether business or government, often suffer from the belief that securing a top position gives them the right to sit pretty and rest on their laurels while their own industry marches on with new technologies and approaches to addressing enduring problems in the field. If you don’t want a rude awakening by way of a surprise pink slip on your desk one morning, you have better stay relevant and informed about innovations in your field.

Professional development courses are always available, and most of them could be had via online access through web conferencing software. Do not deprive yourself the chance to see what your contemporaries and technology innovators are doing lately. There is no substitute for continuing education, and especially in the IT industry where mere seconds could mean the difference between a hacked and a healthy system.

IT departments are at the frontline of defense against some of the biggest, most active criminal systems the world has seen, with vital company information assets always at the risk of exposure and exploitation from some of the meanest underground organizations everywhere. It will do your company and your career an unimaginable level of good if you keep predators at bay and protect your company from financial catastrophes out of angry clients whose stolen personal and financial information convinced them to send your company to courts. There is no better way to accomplish this by staying up to date with the latest developments in your field.

6. Conflict Management

As an IT manager, you are no different from any regular employee: you might feel you have submitted an excellent job and it comes back to you with red marks everywhere and some scalding comments from your boss, a client, and an employee. Under such circumstances, it pays to have all pertinent data and processes involved in proper order, well documented so you wouldn’t have to traverse through the issues blindly.

Proper documentation—easily achieved with some of the top document management systems around—makes it easy to go through the complaint details professionally without resorting to stressful emotion-laden exchanges, which as you should know by now accomplish nothing. Handling conflicts this way makes it easy to build trust and confidence, turning potential antagonists into partners and advocates in you and your team’s behalf. Why destroy bridges when you can build them instead?

Your ability to properly handle conflicts makes you a good candidate for higher positions in your company. It makes your staff and company look up to you as a true leader and team player, opening up better acceptance of your projects.

7. Strong Project Management Skills

As an IT manager, you are hired to accomplish projects and deliver them on time and within budget, a task made easier by some of the best project management platforms around. Getting your team to do their tasks accordingly involves all the other skills that you have, but especially your decisiveness to enforce submission of works based on due dates. Managing your own time and that of your staff requires discipline. If you have successfully negotiated for a manageable project completion date, then you better make sure that you stick to it.

Completing projects around multiple teams or individual tasks requires all your organizational talents and delegation skills. If different components are required, how you built relationships with your vendors comes to the fore, allowing for timely deliveries and precise specifications of the components.

Years of experience should inform you how much time each project module requires. Once you allow contingencies and the right people on the right tasks, you should have no problem delivering on schedule.

You can also read these best project management books; they’ll help you tread the confusing and often frustrating power politics as you climb up the corporate ladder.

8. Presentation and Writing Skills

As an IT manager, you will find that you could only do as much as your financial resources allow. If you are thinking of upgrading or migrating to another software vendor, for example, you could be facing a stiff wall of rejection if you could not articulate your ideas properly in email or in live delivery through a proper presentation. Your writing and presentation skills deeply reflect your mental fortitude, perceptiveness and decisiveness, professional attitude and your managerial acumen.

Your writing and presentation skills serve as a mirror to your organizational and mental competence, allowing higher executives to favor your position and get their signatures on providing budget for your proposal or your immediate promotion.

If you believe that you need further help in this department, you might want to consider online writing courses provided by top schools from either the US or the UK. Likewise, various organizations or self-help resources exist to help you brush up on your presentation skills for more effective speaking and delivery. Lastly, writing enhancement solutions abound that have become very capable of eliminating most of the basic and some advanced writing errors that typically creep up on any type of English composition.

Are you ready to move up the corporate ladder and be an IT manager?

If you are an IT professional with a passion for everything related to computers, software and networks, then you are most likely heading for the position of an IT manager in your current company or the next one. With US IT manager salary approaching CEO level, the position should let you enjoy lucrative financial rewards while being on the front seat of developments in your field, especially if you are working for top companies like Google, Amazon or Microsoft.

While you may be itching to let your immaculately prepared IT manager resume fly, there’s no harm reviewing your latent capabilities and how they compare to the list of essential IT manager skills list discussed above.

Doing so could spell the difference between cockiness and quiet confidence while going through your IT manager interview questions. That or the typical nervous reply from lack of solid ground on what the position is really up to.

One more thing, having a good grasp of the latest tech tools in the industry is a big plus. For that, you can check these best IT management software systems.

Astrid Eira

By Astrid Eira

Astrid Eira is a resident B2B expert of FinancesOnline, focusing on the SaaS niche. She specializes in accounting and human resource management software, writing honest and straightforward reviews of some of the most popular systems around. Being a small business owner herself, Astrid uses her expertise to help educate business owners and entrepreneurs on how new technology can help them run their operations. She's an avid fan of the outdoors, where you'll find her when she's not crunching numbers or testing out new software.

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