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General Chat Thread, I'm about to become a network manager - any tips? in General; Hi, In 4 weeks time I'll become a network manager at a new school. I've been a Senior ICT Technician ...
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    bandgeekmafia78's Avatar
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    I'm about to become a network manager - any tips?

    Hi,

    In 4 weeks time I'll become a network manager at a new school. I've been a Senior ICT Technician for over 4 years and deputised as network manager on quite a few occassions.

    I'm just wondering if anyone has any tips for starting out as NM? Can anyone share their experiences of when they first stepped up to this position?

    Ta very muchly

    Alan.

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    Pottsey's Avatar
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    Do not go in trying to shake the place up right away. Get a feel for the place first, then slowly introduce new things.

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    bandgeekmafia78 (7th July 2009)

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    a) Realise how much crap your network manager has been shielding you from over the years
    b) Assuming they left on amicable terms, take the previous incumbent to the pub for the afternoon and quiz them (you're buying). The really useful stuff generally comes out around pint number 4
    c) Get to know someone in each department well enough to talk to over coffee. They're the person you use to get a feel for IT needs/wants/lingering problems in the dept that they may not otherwise mention (or mention too late).
    d) To cut down on your initial workload, champion peoples desired projects (provided they're sensible), but give them a series of things they need to do to get it moving. Rule of thumb is "I can tell SMT until I'm blue in the face that you would really like and benefit from $foo, but if they don't see and hear that from you as well, you won't get it."
    e) Agree "bandgeekmafia78's hiding somewhere" time where you're uncontactable (expect by the PFY for emergencies) with SMT. This is when you get big things done.
    f) Related to the above, find hiding places in friendly departments. Alternate frequently*.

    *my boss is known for hiding in my office sometimes and I in his, so they're no longer safe places.
    Last edited by pete; 7th July 2009 at 12:02 PM.

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    bandgeekmafia78's Avatar
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    Pete,

    a) I'm prepared for this one!
    b) The previous NM left on really bad terms. Doubt they'll want to help the school out

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    Quote Originally Posted by bandgeekmafia78 View Post
    Pete,

    a) I'm prepared for this one!
    b) The previous NM left on really bad terms. Doubt they'll want to help the school out
    Hope like hell there's some documentation then or it's "interesting times" while you play Jenga with a bunch of interdependent computing devices, a port scanner and guesswork.

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    Also be aware that the reason he left on bad terms is not always one sided. Be prepared to have people complain regarding things the last NM wouldn't do without actually knowing why.

    Dont promise too much when you start and give your self time to get up to speed before making the changes people want. And most of all enjoy it, go in with a fresh attitude and people will probably appreciate that if relations had become strained with the previous NM.

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    bandgeekmafia78 (7th July 2009)

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    Netman's Avatar
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    Run, run very fast indeed.... in fact, learn to fly

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    Take it slowly to start with. I made it clear when I started that there wouldn't be a revolution but I would take my time to see what was working well, what wasn't and where I thought we should be going.
    After a while I talked to SMT and we agreed our future path.

    Identify key people and get them on your side. Implementing change is a lot smoother if you have the backing of the right people. I don't just mean SMT or department heads but there are always people who have an impact at any level. I usually roll things out to a small group of people who I know are going to get noticed using it. Its a lot easier to conduct a training sessions when the majority of the group have already asked you if they can use the new service/piece of software/piece of kit than stand in front of them cold and tell them whythey should be using it.

    Don't overstretch yourself. When I started I eagerly took on everything that came my way but this can lead to not doing everything as well as you want to. Learning to make your workload manageable is a real skill that took a while for me to learn (and how to say no)

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    bandgeekmafia78 (7th July 2009)

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    Hi Bandgeekmafia,

    Just looked at your location, and was wondering which school you've got the network manager's post at?

    I know there was one going in our LEA (which isn't a million miles from your location), and just wondered if you'd gotten that post (particularly given your comment about the NM leaving under a bit of a cloud).

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    First job to do when you get there, make a network map. It doesn't have to be hideously complicated just make sure its got the important servers and their IP addresses, and anything else important. It might take some time to begin with but it'll save you plenty later on.

    Second thing to do is explore the AD structure (assuming they're using vanilla, otherwise explore the layout of any management software they're using). Having spent a little while looking through and seeing the commands available will make you much more effective when a user has an issue, as you won't have to hunt around for the right functions.

    Third, have a cup of tea in the staff room now and then. Chat to the staff and be friendly (or as friendly as you can stand, remember to have a quiet space to retreat to if they get a bit much).

    Fourth, and finally, get in touch with other network managers in your area whether through edugeek or some other method. Some of them will have seen the issues you might come across, and you might have picked up a few things that'll help them. Share knowledge.

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    bandgeekmafia78 (8th July 2009)

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    I partly disagree to some of the suggestions so far...

    Go in open-minded, but if something is clearly not right, and you know a better way then make sure people know you're not afraid to make changes (just be prepared to qualify them if/when asked - and make sure teaching and learning as at the centre of all decisions!)

    If the previous NM left on bad terms I'd be tempted to check out basics security at least and change passwords on admin accounts, switches, etc etc

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    Good practice to change admin passwords - but just be careful on what services depend on what user account or you find services stopping and throwing a spanner in the works.
    Need to map out physical layout of switches if not documented - took me ages here - tyr procurve manager if you have HP switches -can use on free trial initally,
    chhers Mark

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    Sorry if these are repeats -

    • Dont jump in feet first
    • Be transparent where needed to earn trust
    • Dont let people get away with murder at first as you will never get them back later
    • Explain any changes, why your doing them and how it will benefit the users
    • Resign yourself to the fact that regardless of how well prepared you are someone or something will always throw a spanner in.
    • Be honest with your time scales
    • If you cant do something say so, but offer to find out or ask for help.

  18. Thanks to CHR1S from:

    bandgeekmafia78 (8th July 2009)

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    The only tips I will give is get a stress ball for the roller coaster to come.

    Expect to be distrusted and ignored.

    Remember when you comment about things that are done in a strange way there may be a good reason for it which I am sure you will find out in several years.

    Lastly remember the last network manager left on poor terms for a reason and you may have the same or similar problems. I took over from someone who was not very motivated. I now understand why.


    Richard

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    Always begin with a 'no' and then compromise with requests. If you say 'yes' straight away it will be expected every time and then people will start to complain that you didn't present them with the moon on a stick 30 seconds ago!

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