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Working with IT managers on a regular basis allows me to see some great management styles and some really poor ones. There are ten major mistakes that I see IT managers make on a regular basis. Some of these errors have even cost some managers their jobs. Here they are:

Number 1: Focusing on technology and not the business

The typical IT manager comes from a technical background in either infrastructure or development. Based on their technical roots, they tend to focus their efforts in their expertise when in fact they should be looking for ways to support, enable, and improve the business. In order to be successful, it is imperative that IT managers become a business leader and turn their focus and expertise on business issues and problems first.

Number 2: Thinking "out of sight is out of mind"

It's important to remember that in IT, no news is not good news. IT managers tend to trudge along without ever looking at their progress. The most powerful task an IT manager could ever do is an assessment. There are several ways to do this. You can do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, or you could do a full blown formal IT Assessment. You can even use a scorecard system to track where you are as a department.

Number 3: Thinking that your team has it covered

In the TV show "The Apprentice," so many teams ended up in the boardroom because the leader delegated a job, but didn't follow up to make sure it was done right. Following up is not micromanagement. It's your job as a leader to ensure that the task gets done correctly.

Number 4: Not inspecting what you expect

This mistake has its roots in mistake number 3, but can be carried forward into other aspects of IT. For instance, you could possibly expect great performance out of your servers, but may not have a system to make sure they're running at peak capacity. This ultimately leads to poor planning, budgeting, staffing, etc. If you want to avoid this common pitfall, make a comprehensive list of your expectations for your entire department. This could include critical projects, network and server performance, client satisfaction, etc. Double-check the list to make sure you are inspecting all expectations on a regular basis. Keep a checklist or develop a daily disciplines worksheet to follow everything that needs daily inspection.

Number 5: Not creating a partnership with business management

I find a great deal of IT managers reporting to operations and finance personnel instead of presidents and CEOs. The only way IT can be an effective and strategic element to business is through partnership with business executives. You must lead and influence your reports, peers, and leaders to have a maximum impact on the organisation. The quicker you can get on the leadership team, the quicker you will have the ability to execute on number 1.

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