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Move to Management: Leadership and Time Management

Matthew Moran / InformIT

Leadership

Leadership is most often associated with a dynamic and motivational style. However, you can achieve the same effect through a more reserved or conservative style.

Great leadership is primarily concerned with providing the resources that are necessary to enable staff members to get their job done.

IT Career Builder's Toolkit, The

This chapter is from the book
IT Career Builder’s Toolkit, The

If you have a desire to manage, you must be able to enable your workforce.

Enabling your workforce means giving them the resources, motivation, and direction to complete their projects and tasks.

Enabling can take many forms. It can be as simple as making sure that the physical resources for a job are in place. If you are a programmer, ensuring that you have the programming tools to get the job done is part of enabling. If you are an engineer or technician, ensuring that you have the equipment necessary to work and succeed is part of enabling.

Enabling can mean giving the appropriate amount of leeway to allow employees to accomplish their task without interruption. This might mean that a manager notifies others when an employee is unavailable for one of his projects.

Enabling also takes the form of project ownership. Turning over projects to staff members—allowing them to create and innovate—is key to effective management.

When I worked for a large law firm, I was privileged to see an excellent management style. The IT director did not assign projects to those whose title naturally fit the tasks. When a project or need arose, he would call everyone to a central location and explain the issue.

In the short conversation that followed, he identified those who had good ideas and teamed them up. These people were then assigned the project. He would request a list of resources or tools to complete the job—identifying those that were not already in our toolkits. He would then ensure that those tools were quickly located and purchased. At that point, ownership—success and failure—was the responsibility of the team.

This manager expected results and typically got them. Once, he asked if I could deliver on a given project in the time frame the attorney needed. I answered, “I think I can.”

He replied, “I didn’t ask if you thought you could do it. I’m about to stick my neck on the line and say that it will be done. Can you do it?”

I answered that I could, and he made sure that I had a laptop and the necessary software before the day had ended.

If you are to succeed as a manager, you must be comfortable with the idea of turning projects over to your staff. You must be effective at gauging your employees’ skills so that you can mitigate risk of failure, but you must also allow for some growth—forcing employees to stretch their abilities with each project. Doing so keeps them interested and makes them more valuable.

Process and Time Management

Process and time management are also critical for the manager.

Some of my peers might tell you that I cover this topic in theory only. There is truth to that. In particular, time management is my Achilles heel. For that reason, I have to spend a little more effort in this area.

If you have problems meeting deadlines or keeping track of significant project or work milestones, you might need some remedial help in this area.

This goes beyond writing things down on sticky notes or on the back of your hand. Time is our most precious commodity—and it is a commodity that we can only spend. You cannot save time or bank it. You must master its use.

Following are some ideas that I have found critical regarding time management:

  • Keep a single journal or book for your tasks and appointments.

    Although you don’t necessarily need to go out and purchase an expensive time management binder, you should try to keep information about tasks, appointments, and projects in a single location.

    I have worked with many professionals who have multiple notepads with notes and contact numbers in each. Later, finding key pieces of information is difficult.

  • Take a few moments at a designated time to plan your day’s critical tasks.

    This can occur at the end of the day or early in the morning. Use whatever time is effective for you. Sit down and make a list of critical tasks for the day, and then prioritize those tasks.

    Of critical importance here is to look over your schedule and see whether you have overbooked your tasks and appointments. Although it is great to be ambitious, your day might be encumbered by many unplanned distractions. If you schedule and plan for tasks without room for delays, you’ll find that you’re constantly failing to finish your list.

    Make sure that your list is ambitious but achievable.



© 2008, InformIT


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