Google’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Ben Fried, is surely one of the most important IT Managers in the world. As CIO of one of the biggest technology companies, he and his team have a lot of technology to manage and a lot of very busy people to enable through that technology.
Google works so well because of the service that Fried and his team provide to the company, and yet as a manager, Fried has a very simple philosophy to his management style.
“We are not there to tell [our employees] how to work, but help them work the way they want to work. So empowerment starts with a lot of respect,” Fried said in an interview with Forbes early in 2014.
As simple as that philosophy might sound, it takes a lot of work to get to that point, including development of personal traits and management style.
The key personality traits for a good IT manager
The most important thing for a good manager to have are personality traits that ensure they are seen as a respected leader:
- Vision: A good IT manager needs to be able to inspire others, and to be able to inspire they must be an inspired individual themselves.
- Empathy: A good manager also understands how to listen to others, both inside and outside of the organisation. People relate better with those who exhibit emotional intelligence, such as when a manager is understanding of a person’s position and issues.
- Accountability and honesty: It is important for a manager to take adequate levels of responsibility for the performance of their team. This responsibility will be considered a sign of genuine leadership and will earn the manager respect from their team members, and the perception that they are a ‘good’ manager.
- Consistency: Finally, a good leader should be consistent, in order to instil a sense of reliability into the others on the team.
The key skills that a good IT manager exhibits
In addition to personality traits, a good IT manager will have a range of skills that help both their ability to make accurate decisions about projects, and then make sure those projects are executed well.
- Knowledge: A good IT manager will maintain their technical knowledge. They might spend more time in meetings than playing with technology, but they will maintain their understanding of how technology functions, and they will be aware of new developments in what is a very dynamic industry.
- Communication: There is little value in an IT manager having a vision if they can’t explain it clearly to their team. Communication and articulation are essential in making sure everyone is on the same page and the project is heading in the right direction.
- Change management skills: The rate of change in IT is accelerating rather than decelerating. The very best IT managers understand how to manage both their own team and the overall business through a near constant state of change.
- The ability to adopt a ‘client first’ attitude: The customer for an IT team is, essentially, the rest of the organisation. As Fried said in his interview with Forbes, a good IT manager respects the organisation’s workers. He understands that they know how to work, and enables his team to be proactive rather than acting as an obstacle.
- Time management: An IT manager is a busy person who needs to juggle multiple competing demands. Without excellent time management skills the job can quickly become draining and stressful, and the quality of work across the board will suffer. A good IT manager knows how to divide time, making room for the team to relax and reset.