I was thinking of mistakes that past managers have made and thought it would be helpful to share. All of these managers were fired from their jobs, and these mistakes were typical of their confusing lack of focus.
- Do not use the company’s products or services. Working in IT you support things like iPhones or whatever the company standard is. One manager choose to use his personal Android phone, so when people had iPhone problems he had no idea what to do. He used to come to me to fix issues since he had no experience with the product. Why would you use something different from what your customers use? You have to “eat your own dog food” and use the products and services that are standard in a company.
- Spend money with no ROI plan. It is irresponsible to spend money without a plan for ROI. You should always show that you are spending money to solve a problem and that the money is spent in the most efficient way possible. I prefer long-term solutions, so when I show how it will save money I look at months or years down the road. For example, I had a manager replace a broken Firewall with an exact replacement. The problem is that the brand of firewall had issues and I told the manager that we needed to get a different brand since other people had those issues as well. Well, a year later the problems got worse so the company had to spend lots of money getting a new firewall. That first firewall was a waste of money. It should have been migrated then, but the manager didn’t take responsibility to fix the larger issue.
- Micromanage how to do things. This is a mistake for several reasons. If they really are not capable, then hire someone else. However, if they are capable, let them do their job. I suffered under managers who did this to me. I asked them if I was capable of doing the assignment and they said yes. So I asked them why they were telling me exactly what to do. They said that they prefer it done their way. What a crazy idea this was to me. If the task is done in an acceptable way, then it is arrogance and ego that says it must be done in a certain manner. Often there are better ways to do things that are faster or cheaper, so why not let the employee evaluate those and perhaps find a better way?
- Make timekeeping rather than efficiency the focus. Having prompt attendance is nice when people are average workers. However, some people get more done than others. For people who are high performers, timekeeping is counterproductive. High performers have highs and lows of energy and trying to get high performance all the time only leads to burnout. People only give as much work as they feel financially compensated for. When you try to motivate them outside of money, it doesn’t work. I have seen companies give all kinds of perks and bonuses to people and it doesn’t matter. People decide how much they are going to give and nothing changes outside of that.
- Think buying things instead of improving the process will help. Yes of course you need certain minimums of things to work. However, beyond that, focusing on the workflow and process is always more critical. Too often IT is more about making the current outdated process faster, instead of rethinking the process. Change is hard, and most companies don’t want to change until they start laying people off. The best companies always ask if there are better ways to work and then adopt them as they show a return on investment.