Tips For Finding Good IT Management

from Educators' eZine

Over my short career in information technology, I have seen the best and worst when it comes to management. From these stints I have developed my own management approach which I will outline for you. Being involved in different schools and creating relationships with my fellow workers has led me down a bumpy road that has only given me strength as a manager of information services.

Your technology staff should be thought of as an important aspect in furthering the education of the children as well as facilitating the smooth running of the district. When you are selecting candidates there are some things that you should do research on:

  • Know the market. If you want an MCSE/CCNA but you are only willing to pay $30,000/year then you need to rethink if it's really necessary. Don't go for the fences unless you are willing to pay.
  • Know your budget. Hiring someone could influence the next 20 or 30 years of your district. If you only have limited funds, search for a new college graduate.
  • Look outside the box. Computer "people" have come a long way from what we were thought of years ago. Find a candidate that will not only be a good fit for your tech staff, but one that plays well with others.

Once you have your staff in place just keep in mind the following:

  • Do not micro-manage. Some things are just wasteful of time. If you have to have daily meetings with your staff, know every single place they are at every second, and count the work orders they do daily then you have too much time on your hands.
  • Trust your staff. If you do not, it WILL come back to haunt you. Your lack of trust in them will in turn force them to not trust you.
  • Look at your turnover rate. If you have had three positions that were held by 10 people in the last 2 years then you need to look at yourself as a manager.
  • Be open to ideas. The reason you have a staff is to take care of things. Listen to their ideas; sometimes they have cost efficient solutions that will better the working environment.
  • The software that you created is not the best software to perform all duties needed. Look at better packages as the district grows if needed, be open to ideas.
  • Do not bring your personal problems to work.
  • What happens at work stays at work.
  • Arguments happen, especially in a high stress environment. Continuously fighting over the same thing over and over accomplishes nothing. Say your piece, and leave it at that.
  • Do not burn bridges. You will never know if or when you will need them.
  • Remember. Someone, somewhere, will always be better than you. Do not act like you know everything.
  • You are a team. If one of you succeeds, you all succeed.
  • Give credit where credit is due.

A worthwhile technology plan demands a worthwhile leader. Sometimes a district tries to avoid this by going the 'committee' route, where the tasks are spread around to multiple teachers and the manager of information services, also a teacher, oversees all. While some districts find that using these types of resources cause only miniscule hiccups, many others discover major problems. With this in mind, maybe at some point the district decides it needs a leader. It obtains a list of candidates from various job engines, newspaper ads, and such to find a candidate to lead them into the future of education.

Some tips on choosing a leader:

  • The First Impression. Most administrators will admit that the first impression that a candidate gives leads them to their second interview.
  • Read Body Language. Although being uncomfortable in an unknown environment is only human nature, look for those who appear confident when they walk into the room.
  • Introductions and Eye Contact. If the candidate is not comfortable with looking a person in the eye, she/he may not be management material.
  • Leadership. How did their previous co-workers see them, as a quiet soul or as a take-charge person?
  • Look outside of vocabulary. Let's face it; school districts have their own vocabulary for certain technical entities. Instead of dwelling on their vocabulary, focus more on scenarios.
  • Ask questions. Find out how they would have handled certain situations. Use problems that the district has had so you know what the outcome was from previous actions. Listen to what they have to say, and see if it would have received a more popular response. Throw in diverse questions that do not necessarily have anything to do with technology. See how they handle issues on their toes.

Yes, these are only my opinions of maintaining and/or implementing an effective environment, but they are things that I have learned throughout the years.

Email:Joseph Roadman