Are You a Good IT Boss?

An employee’s relationship with his or her boss can determine whether the person will stay at a company or look elsewhere. So it’s essential for bosses to continually evaluate themselves and the workplace.

Anita Cassidy, president and CEO of Strategic Computing Planning, in Prior Lake, Minn., has more than 24 years of experience in IT and has written two books about IT management. She offers five tips to CIOs on being a good boss.

1. Stay the course

Leadership, vision and planning are important to give the department an overall direction for the future. After choosing a path, stick to it. Although the industry rapidly changes, you cannot shift your priorities to address whoever screams the loudest. Set challenging, reasonable goals, and devise a plan to achieve them. “There’s a fine line between vision and hallucination,” Cassidy says.

2. Understand the business plan

Make sure the IT department understands what the business plan is for the company. In many companies, IT staff members work in isolation and don’t comprehend how their efforts affect the business. Establish an open line of communication between IT and other departments.

3. Act as a buffer

Although it is important for the IT department to be in tune with the business aims of the company, workers need to be shielded from office politics. Make sure that other departments go through you, and only you, with complaints about IT, because many times anger is the first reaction when technical problems arise.

4. Be an advocate

Offer yourself as a mentor and resource for your employees, and use each employee for tasks that take advantage of his or her strengths. Be aware of salaries and benefits within the industry to remain competitive. Cassidy adds that besides proactively addressing tangible benefits such as salary, training, and up-to-date hardware and software, it is also important to address the intangible factors such as time for working at home, input into decisions, and communication.

5. Personal interaction

Be approachable to your staff: Make yourself visible by walking around and visiting their desks. Create a culture in the office that is conducive to brainstorming and problem-solving. When problems do arise, quickly clear up tensions face-to-face. “Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you know everything – you can learn something from every employee and every interaction,” Cassidy says.