Can a non-IT person manage an IT team? The answer might surprise you

Can a non-IT person manage an IT team? The answer might surprise you

One of a manager’s primary tasks is to optimize the company’s resources, including human resources. A manager must be able to get the most productivity from staff members, assess their performance, and lead them in the direction the company wants them to go. These are all quite straightforward things to do when the manager comes from the same field as their subordinates, but things get a little tricky when the former lacks the expertise and know-how of the latter.

This challenge is especially pronounced in IT teams that are led by non-technical managers. At times, it may seem like they’re speaking different languages. The team leader may not be confident in the decisions they have to make, and staff may become frustrated in their ability to communicate the problems they encounter and the solutions they propose. The good news is that it is entirely possible (and maybe even advantageous) for a non-technical manager to lead an IT team. The solution is simply to have a “translator.” Here are a few ways a managed IT services provider (MSP) can help you and your team get on the same page.

Performance assessment

While managers may have leadership skills and are adept at resource management, if their background is not in IT, they’ll have difficulty connecting their IT staff’s efforts to results. When an IT initiative fails, it can be hard to discern an informed and reasonable approach by staff that was just not successful, from outcomes that resulted from poor decisions, lack of training, shoddy work, or just plain dishonesty. Without support, it may take managers weeks or months of consistent failures to discover what’s really happening, and whether staff are providing straight answers.

Having an MSP as your ally means having your very own IT coach. You, as a manager, get access to the experience, training, and mentorship that an MSP provides. At the same time, competent and dedicated staff soon learn they have an invaluable resource to consult with, while bad performers will have second thoughts about ever trying to mislead you or underperform.

Blocked professional development

Most IT staff members are dedicated professionals who want to do their best for their employers, but sometimes the ability to perform is hampered by lack of training. Their manager may lack the know-how to critically evaluate what their employees need in terms of skills training and to calculate the ROI for investments in further IT education and professional certifications. Furthermore, the manager may be reluctant to let personnel study because that will take the latter away from their everyday duties.

Whatever the case may be, an MSP can be of service. In addition to knowing how to help your IT staff advance in their careers and become of better service to your company, the MSP can be the backup your staff needs so they can take time for their studies. And, for those areas where the IT team lacks fundamental skills, the MSP can provide properly certified professionals to keep critical projects moving.

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Tunnel vision

As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so it’s natural to stick with what’s working. While that can be predictable and comforting, especially for the non-IT manager, it can be limiting to staff and to the organization as a whole. Even if long-term staff remain dedicated to continuous learning, it can be difficult for them to put new techniques and technologies into practice in an IT environment that rarely changes.

What’s more, it can be very challenging to recognize risks that may be coming from unfamiliar places. The manager might not even be aware of how the company is exposed to risk because their personnel lack exposure to critical scenarios and have no knowledge of how to respond to them. For the manager, this combination of security risk and lack of vision could ultimately make it difficult to keep the organization competitive and safe, and to retain and attract staff.

Thankfully, a reputable MSP is comprised of professionals who specialize in many areas of IT and have racked up experiences serving companies in various industries. These experiences help them form an effective methodology for assessing entirely new scenarios, recognizing potential problems, and proactively developing solutions for addressing these problems. In short, that service provider can expand your IT team’s limited vision, help them come up with future-ready IT strategies, and fill in knowledge gaps when facing challenges. With these kinds of investments and actions, the non-technical IT manager can build a better, more trusting relationship with staff, resulting in better IT outcomes.

Traditionally, IT managers came from the ranks of trained IT professionals, but it’s becoming common for leaders from non-IT backgrounds, like CFOs, general managers, operations, and even HR, to take on the role of leading the IT team. These business-oriented backgrounds can be a great advantage to IT, because they can help guide and focus IT efforts on those strategies and solutions that most align with the mission of the organization. While it can be a challenge to understand the “language” of IT and its complexities, it can be fully accomplished by non-technical managers — with the help of your friendly neighbourhood MSP!

When it comes to leading IT staff, let us give your non-technical managers a hand. Talk with XBASE to learn how our Exponentially Better™ IT services can help your managers bring out the full potential of technology and the IT team.

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