Top IT Middle Managers: Three Key Traits

Susan Hall
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How to Conduct Better Meetings

Surveys have indicated that a typical meeting attendee views them as being 2.3 times as long as they should be. Since meetings are vital to a project's success, the secret lies in simply making them more efficient.

A "Secret CIO" post on InformationWeek delves into three key traits for IT middle managers. This article was written under a pen name, so we're left to trust that the writer, billed as "the real-life CIO of a billion-dollar-plus company," knows his stuff.


Here are the traits:

  • Are you sure you want to do this? comes across as less than clear, but maybe that's the conundrum for many IT pros moving into management. I take it to mean that many IT pros struggle with being less hands-on with tech projects and more people-oriented with other departments. It's described this way:
Effective IT managers don't give up their passion for technology, but they learn to subordinate it to reach larger objectives. They stay hands-off when they would rather be hands-on. They spend more of their time talking about the how rather than the what.
  • Have you learned another language? Basically, as the writer says, these IT pros spend time with their business counterparts and "keep their dweebiness to themselves" as much as possible. They've learned to speak in terms that non-tech people can understand. That's important in "selling" any tech initiative. As author Karen Friedman told my colleague Don Tennant:
You can have the greatest innovation, the greatest discovery or the greatest vision in the world, but if you can't communicate it clearly and succinctly so people understand how it benefits, impacts or affects them, then nobody will care about your innovation.

Or as this post, from the North Carolina State University College of Management, describes having achieved this:

Gone are the days of meetings with marketing experts, financial wizards and operational gurus who look at you as only the "technical guy" or just "the scientists". Now they look to you because you understand the business well beyond your technical expertise. That is a competitive advantage not just for the business itself, but also for the growth and career development of those with specialized technical skills.
  • Have you found the right balance? Being a middle manager's a tough dance between delivering what the upper bosses want while not frying out the people who work for you. As this writer put it:
An IT manager's staff needs to know that their boss understands their pain and doesn't make unreasonable requests.

It's important to know when to fight for your staff because lost trust is hard to regain.


Surely it's important to work on those traits. In addition, this piece from the job site The Ladders offers suggestions on using the "white space" in your day-think gaps not filled in on your calendar-to link your personal passions with your professional goals.

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