stay up to date
Hi all, can i ask two questions..
1. How do the IT managers on here stay abreast of all the latest news, views, technologies?
2. Is it OK to let your technicians by pass you technically? by this i mean i have a policy where i ensure when i am hiring i get the people with the best technical skills and also have a policy where i pass on my knowledge freely but i have noticed over time they all seem to want to 'nick' my job :D or 'prove' they know more than me (don't ask as I'm not sure why?), I'm not insecure and as stated have no desire to be on a technical pedestal (after all we can't ever know it all can we) would be interested to here your views.
take good care
Answer for point 1
Read technical manuals as and where possible (such as MCITP, CCNA, various wireless manuals etc)
Read research documents as and where possible
Speak to other network managers and collaborate, they may do something you don't know about etc and can help you learn
Answer for point 2
IMHO not really. It is best to stay above them in skill whilst nurturing theirs. If they surpass you and can prove as such, you could quite easily find yourself in a lower position in a "reshuffle". I have seen it happen where the NM of 10 years was put to deputy NM (on the same pay) and the senior tech of 9 months got promoted to NM because he had the knowledge and gumption to go to the NM and his line manager and PROVE he knew more.
Also best to set frequent tests for yourself, ask your techs to set the questions but to be reasonable, and do the same for the techs so you can assess where each other are and can gain a mutual respect for the knowledge you know.
Also regular reviews of the techs (once a month should be plenty) so they get a one on one with you and you can ask them questions and gives them a chance to ask you things too.
1, follow forums such as this, many of the ideas i have implemented are where somebody has posted something and i've stolen! Visit places like Bett, IP expo etc
2. yes and no, there is always going to be cases that the person below you knows more about something whether it be simply about a piece of software or a server. if they have setup that server/software from scratch and no it inside out then fair enough. You may simple know the basics, but i would expect you to pick it up and learn it.
There may be other things such as a tech and designed and coded an intranet in a language you don't know, its fair to say then i wouldn't think you would have to learn it but i would hope somebody has the knowledge to then decipher if the time came.
My tuppence worth.
1. What everyone else has said
2. If you are an IT manager then manage, and be thankful you have skilled staff beneath you, because if you don't, you will end up doing their job as well as yours and it will make you look very bad indeed. IT is such a vast subject it is impossible for anyone to be a master of it all. If you have 2 or 3 underlings then you'll just fry your brain trying to stay more knowlegable in all of the areas they are covering. What you should be doing is ensuring that thier skills are focussed and used in the correct areas, NOT trying to trip them up to make yourself look good. You're a manager, so manage.
*Obviously this does not preclude you from being able to play catch up or taking the lead in projects involving new systems/software but if your techies are the ones who are dealing with it the most then it will be the case they will, eventually, learn more than you about it.
What DB said. Of course it's OK for techs to have skills their NM doesn't!
The NM is there to manage a team, not to do everything better than anyone else! Captains of industry employ specialists. They aren't skilled lawyers and accountants and... they do have the ability to get their heads round issues and work out how to resolve problems and with whom.
An NM who expects to be technically better than the techs in all areas has serious problems... and I would not wish to be part of that team.
That said, the NM should have awareness of tech developments (which is where edugeek, BETT amd various journals and blogs come in), but so should the techs.
Webinars, trade papers, taking part in (not just reading) forums and mailing lists.
Most companies do a lot of webinars ... a number of them get linked to on here (that could be more of a regular thing) and it is worth taking the time to either take part or to at least go back and watch the recording.
Go out and chat with peers in local schools. Also get involved with BCS (branches vary in quality) but they have a number of specialist interest groups who can be enlightening. The evening sessions they do are pretty good too.
As for skills ... hell, yes! Let your techies get on an pass you by. You can't know everything ... even the fabled Geoff had to have a private connection tot eh Google mainframe to become all-knowing (running joke ... members will happily explain over a beer / coke / hob-nob ... another reason to get out and meet folk). Having staff who are more skilled in certain areas is not a poor reflection on your ability to manage, in fact it is a good reflection. It shows that CPD is valued, it shows that there is a breadth of knowledge across the whole team and it also shows that you are not scared to delegate. Good managers should be happy to allow their techies to take lead on project where they are the expert, and that also means being in charge of the NM (who might be given a low-grade task within a project).
One thing you can do is try to rotate the specialisms ... the techie who is fantastic with VMs / Exchange should also spend some time looking after the network infrastructure, possibly being mentored by the techie who already looks after that area. It means that should 1 techie leave after a while it does not take long for the others to fill any gaps (if there are any) and you are not left having to do it yourself ... and thereby not doing your normal job. IIRC The Institute of Leadership & Management has a good article on this ... @wagnerk can probably dig it out.
Oh ... and welcome on board.
What she said :)
Originally Posted by elsiegee40
(and may I compliment her on the use of the word 'whom')
Forums such as this and of course the good "Twitter" which will make subscribing to many technical feeds a doddle :)
Google+ also has this type of grouping to certain technical groups :)
Oh! and youtube of course for hands on visual and kinaesthetic learners :)
As for being an NM and your staff knowing more than you, well done as this shows that you care about their CPD and this is the way forward, you are there to manage them to the best of your ability not have the same skillset as this would make the job harder.
@webman has got some great coding skills and over the years through good CPD which both the school and myself have managed he has become a force to be reckoned with and that is why he is leaving the confines of the school and moving into the big world of private industry with my blessings.
I have never been envious of his skills but marvelled at his abilities and nurtured him these past 8-9 years to enable him to be the best he can possibly be and even if I say so myself this is the sign of a good manager. :)
Hi again all, firstly can i say thanks for all your views, secondly can i say sorry, i deliberatly held info back on question 2. as i wanted your views based almost entirely from a technical knowledge point of view. I could of told you that i am a confident NM in the Job for years (15 years +) managing a huge network with a broad range of skills, CCNA, MCSE, ITIL, Prince 2, BA (Hons) Technology etc etc but that may have swayed your views.
In any case your views were brilliant and helped out immensley as most of you confirmed my own belief that it is absolutley ok for those techies to be technically brilliant and that i should focus on having good all round technical knowledge and continue to work on the mangement side of things.
Once again many thanks