Are you a good IT boss?

By John Spence, InfoWorld |  Career

AN EMPLOYEE'S RELATIONSHIP with the 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 points out five key items that are important
to be a good boss.

1. Stay the course

Leadership, vision, and planning are important to give the department an overall
direction for the future. After you have chosen a path, stick to it. Although the
industry experiences rapid change, 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 from the rest of company 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.

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