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3/15/2012
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Are You A Bad IT Manager?

Here are four warning signs that you might be demoralizing your staff and hurting your company's productivity and bottom line.

MWC: Waterproof Your Phones, Tablets, Laptops
MWC: Waterproof Your Phones, Tablets, Laptops
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Disgruntled workers are not the only negative by-product of a lousy IT manager. Bad managers can have a disastrous impact on an IT shop's morale and productivity, not to mention a company's bottom line. And the problem of bad management seems to be growing.

Just ask Christine Porath, assistant professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and co-author of The Costs of Bad Behaviour: How Incivility Damages Your Business and What You Can do About It, Porath conducted surveys that found that almost half of respondents across 60 industries experienced bad behavior from a manager at least once a week, a figure that has more than doubled since 1998.

There are ways to identify an ineffective IT manager before the damage is done. John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing agency, says to look for these four clear-cut signs.

[ For tips from the feds, read Feds Aim To Improve IT Management Skills. ]

1. A lack of appreciation for employees. Many IT managers might believe that given today's tight labor market, employees are happy to have any job, no matter how they're treated. But that would be a huge mistake. "I'd say one of the biggest mistakes we see right now is managers thinking that a high national unemployment rate translates to a high unemployment rate for IT professionals," says Reed. "In fact, the unemployment rate for college-educated professionals is about half of the overall unemployment rate, and the unemployment rate in many IT professions" is less than that, he said. "Why is not realizing this a mistake? Because it means that for many IT positions, competition for employees is fierce and if your employees are unhappy, they may find opportunities elsewhere."

2. Poor communication skills and availability. Managers who don't engage their employees and interact with them regularly are likely to experience higher attrition rates. Most likely to flee: "millennials"--20-something techies who crave constant feedback from their superiors. "Employees want to feel like their managers' get them,'" says Reed. "Managers who make themselves unavailable, don't monitor their teams' workloads, or foster an environment for growth and opportunities run the risk of losing their best employees to other companies."

3. A reluctance to improve. These days, IT managers with lackluster skills have no excuse. There are plenty of ways to brush up on communication skills and interpersonal powers. "Mentorships are always a great way to improve your leadership skills," says Reed. "Also, there are a number of leadership courses out there that can be extremely helpful."

4. Out of touch. If concepts such as cloud computing and virtualization still baffle an IT manager's mind, then he or she is in desperate need of some education. Says Reed: "In terms of technical skills, certification courses are always a good way to keep your skills up-to-date. Also, professional organizations often offer access to courses, seminars, and lectures that can help you keep on top of industry happenings and trends."

Windows is currently a nobody in the tablet market. That could change with the release of Windows 8, the first version designed for touch screens and the tablet form factor. With the new Metro user interface, Microsoft will try to serve both tablet and desktop markets. Can it succeed? Find out at our Byte webcast, What Impact Will Windows 8 Have On The Tablet Market?. It happens March 14. (Free registration required.)

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