As time passes throughout one's professional career, it can grow tiring to perform the same duties over and over. In the field of information technology, this is certainly the case. Often, many IT pros grow weary of constantly having to learn about the latest tech trends and earning certifications to stay relevant.
For those people, a logical move is a transition into IT management. However, making the leap is sometimes easier said than done. After all, just because you have technical skills doesn't mean that others see you as IT “management material". Today, we're going to look at four distinct ways that you can begin to gain management and leadership experience in the tech job you already have.
#1. Learn what makes your business tick. In many technology-focused jobs, employees don’t necessarily need to have a complete grasp regarding what the business does, how it operates or what direction it is going in. Yet, if you really want to make your mark in IT management, having a thorough understanding of the inner-workings of the business is crucial. Therefore, when time permits, make sure you read and fully understand the organization's mission statement. Talk to other managers and get their opinions on the current and future state of the company. Then armed with that knowledge, begin applying it toward your tech-specific role. Doing so will help you to better communicate with end users about why they need specific apps and how things like digital transformation of the business impacts their ability to work.
#2. Take a more active role within your IT team. In traditional enterprise organizations, an IT department is broken into multiple teams. For example, teams commonly are split into service desk, infrastructure, DevOps, database and data security, to name a few. If you want to stand out as a leader in the IT department, a good place to start is within your specific team. If you aren't already doing so, make sure you do your best to lead/contribute in team meetings. Also, try to position yourself as a liaison between team members, and between your team and others within the IT department. Lastly, take advantage of new IT projects by contributing in both a technical and project-management roll.
#3. Build business relationships outside the IT department. For those working within the IT department, the customers are typically other department employees within the same organization. When working with end-user customers, work to establish relationships that goes beyond their technical issues. Seek to engage them in conversations regarding how others use your technology for specific business tasks. It's these little things that will go a long way when upper management is looking for the next IT manager and requests input from other departments.
#4. Show you're fiscally responsible. Lastly, one of the many tasks of an IT manager is to balance the budget and cut unnecessary costs. For those in technical roles, it’s easy to take the "more is better" approach when requesting funding for technologies. Yet, if you want to prove that you're looking at the "big picture" in terms of what's right for the organization, put in some effort when asking for dollars and prove to others you're performing your due-diligence when properly sizing technologies and getting competitive quotes from vendors.
Picking up some management skills in the role you're currently in --no matter how technical your current job -- isn't nearly as difficult as one might think. It simply takes a little bit of effort to change your way of thinking from a technology-first to a business-first perspective. Once you do so, you'll find that management opportunities present themselves to you. When these opportunities begin to flow freely, it's usually a good sign that you are ready to make the leap from IT pro to IT manager.