Technical supervisors tend to be promoted to their positions of leadership by rising up the company ranks, more so than most other professions.
This is a sensible development given that company decisions today increasingly depend on the fine details of the underlying technology. Technology leaders have to line up initiatives with company needs and convey these decisions to non-technical stakeholders. If technology supervisors don’t have an intimate knowledge of the technology, it’s challenging for them to make the proper call.
However, the ability to make well-informed technical decisions doesn’t necessarily make someone a great all-around manager. Great corporate leaders must also be able to adopt a business mindset, come up with solutions to wide-ranging problems and understand the value of perception.
Putting business into the equation
Technical managers who came up through the ranks are probably used to focusing on just the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a problem. As a manager, these folks must now expand their scope to include the messy truths of the company, which means contemplating budgets, company culture, office politics, the economy and recent company history.
Rather than making the case for projects in technical terms, take time to comprehend the business factors and the pain points other departments have to handle. Talk to your colleagues and pay attention to what they have to say about their best solutions and worst problems. Then, unpack the crucial metrics behind what you have heard and forces that drive them.
Once you have figured out the business realities that will impact a project, you can make a case for it as a company leader rather than as a tech veteran.
Always be searching for solutions
IT personnel often just have to stay in their lane to succeed; and therefore, new tech managers often struggle trying to deal with issues that expand outside their sphere of influence.
Adopting a solutions-based mentality can help you deal with the problems that pop-up outside your purview. Start with the objective in mind and work backward, identifying the people you must talk to and resources you need to secure.
Perception truly is reality
Technical employees generally get rewarded for functionality, not aesthetics. Maybe that’s why the standard tech uniform is a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers.
It’s a completely different story in management, where people are routinely judged based on how nicely they communicate or if they can effectively lead a team. Because these metrics are heavily based on perception, it can be challenging for people who are used to getting judged on hard numbers.
Since people will be judging you based on the comments you make in meetings, emails you send out and so on, you need to embrace the idea that perception is a reality. Be deliberate in your communications and make sure people don’t misunderstand your intentions.
Also, it can’t hurt to invest in some decent clothes and practice positive confident body language.
At SSi People , we help both new and experienced managers achieve success through custom contract worker solutions. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you and your organization.