Blog Idol: Avoiding Pointy-Haired Boss syndrome

IT management techniques took centre stage in this week’s Blogging Idol competition with a few discussions regarding what defines a good leader.

Blogger Kevin Pashuk argued that senior leaders responsible for IT need to review the development of their managers to avoid PHB (Pointy-Haired Boss) syndrome. The tendency for developers, network administrators and other IT workers to chase the money and move into a management role has created a legion of Dilbert-inspired bosses, he said.

“There are a large number of skilled technical people suddenly faced with management tasks (i.e. HR, budgets, leadership, mediation, etc.) for which they have had little or no training,” Pashuk wrote. “Pity their former colleagues who now have to work for them!”

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Contestant Ron Van Holst weighed in on the management debate, saying that great managers instill vision, lead by example, reward risk taking and create enthusiasm. The “other managers,” however, corrected mistakes in front of others, look for scape goats, create internal competition and act in their own best interests.

“I have been fortunate in my career to have had a few great managers, certainly more good managers than ‘other managers,” he wrote. “I can’t recall any pointy hair though.”

Blogger Don Sheppard also chimed in to the management debate, adding that the biggest skill an IT manager can learn is the ability to shield their employees from the higher ups.

“Part of the role of a manager is to fend off the bosses so your people can get the work done,” he wrote. “This may not directly be ‘inspiring, motivating or leading’ the staff, but it does set the stage for getting things done in a way that allows more job satisfaction. Perhaps it’s more leading the bosses?”

Pashuk followed up his post on PHB syndrome with a blog entry citing 10 reasons why people should buy a RIM PlayBook tablet. Pashuk made many serious points, but did inject some Late Show-styled humour into the proceedings.

“You’ve just dropped your iPad into a puddle, and are now looking for a replacement,” he wrote. “Being an adventuresome sort, you are willing to try something new.”

Pashuk also cited his objection to wearing cargo pants to carry the larger iPad form factor as another point in the PlayBook column.

Blogger Michael Gerochi asked his IT pro readers to consider whether they were “born” an early adopter. When describing his own formative years at an IT help desk, Gerochi said, he quickly became an early adopter of PMBOK, ITIL, COBIT, SDLC, APM, and a slew of other acronyms.

“For the early adopters that don’t listen to Lady Gaga and were not ‘Born This Way,’ there are some, which were forced to behave like early adopters so that they could keep their IT jobs,” he wrote. “These were the people that were ‘told’ to take the latest IT courses. These were the people that were given a BlackBerry, and actually had to ‘learn’ how to use it. These are the people that grumble about change, and are prone to technology problems that have to be fixed by an early adopter.”

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