March 13, 2014, 8:58 PM —
Moving from a first line management role (IT Manager) to a manager of managers (IT Director), is a bigger professional transition than you may think.
It may seem obvious to say that becoming a manager of managers (to be referred to here as an IT Director) pushes you one step further away from the people using the technology and from the technology itself. This may sound like a trivial distinction, but it has major ramifications on your ability to keep up with technological advances and the type of people you work with on a daily basis.
Regarding keeping up with technology, as a first-line manager, you may not personally work hands-on with technologies your group is using, but the people working for you are hands-on. As a result, you are still involved in technical decisions and are still immersed and surrounded by technical related activities. As an IT Director, you are totally insulated from the actual work being performed, thus, almost completely removed from the technical work.
From a workload perspective, rather than spending your time managing projects and techies, your day is spent on less tactical/project work and more on strategic cross-functional and organizational activities such as budgeting, salary planning, Disaster/Recovery planning, resource scheduling, project prioritization, corporate politicking, status reporting and presentation writing.
These are of course very important processes that help assure company functions are running smoothly and efficiently. While this type of work requires a deep level of skill, it’s managerial skill, not technical skill. That said, the move into middle and upper management is a tradeoff of one skill set for another. That is to say, as your technical skills diminish, your managerial skills expand.