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10 Ways to Improve IT Performance (Without Killing Morale)

“10 ways to improve IT performance (without killing morale),” on CIO, February 21, 2017.

6. Resist the temptation to micromanage

Like parents with a child learning to ride a bicycle, it’s almost impossible for many IT leaders to “let go of the seat” and allow their team to wobble and fall as they learn to be self-managing and empowered.

“IT leaders will say they embrace empowerment, but the first time something goes wrong they grab the reins and return to their micromanaging ways,” explains Alan Zucker, founding principal of Project Management Essentials, a firm that provides project management and agile software development services. “It is a common reaction, but if they want to create a new culture they have to demonstrate their ability to abide by changes.”

9. Utilize the latest proven management techniques

Many IT leaders are thrust into their roles solely on the basis of their technology expertise, receiving only limited management training. “They tend to follow Management 1.0 or maybe Management 2.0 practices,” Zucker says. “They either think of their staff as resource widgets (1.0) or that management processes (2.0) like 360-feedback is the solution.”

Management 3.0, on the other hand, recognizes the complexity of today’s operating environment and the power of empowered, motivated individuals to solve problems. “Accepting Management 3.0 and actually implementing it requires a great deal of trust and courage from management and leaders,” Zucker observes.

The takeway

It’s easy to believe that by communicating a vision, analyzing clear metrics and empowering teams, an IT department will immediately begin functioning at maximum productivity. But there’s more to it than that. Building a high-performance team requires patience and persistence.

“IT staff can begin to change organically,” Zucker says. When given even the smallest step toward empowerment and self-management, they can embrace the opportunity. “They can also recognize that their leaders are trying to change the environment and enthusiastically follow the lead rather than being skeptical,” he concludes.