IT is an extremely wide-ranging subject, and there is never a one-size-fits-all approach.
As a Head of IT in an SME, everyday work can be as varied as
- managing your department in a way that empowers your staff to become engaged and motivated in supporting the organisation’s goals
- trying to gain an overview of workflows across an organisation in order to better support staff
- spending time experimenting with a new system or service to see if it really does what’s in the brochure
- engaging with other departments to create ongoing positive dialogue around technology and services
- pitching in on support tasks
- learning entirely new technical skills (eg a new language or system)
- planning the best way to get from A to B, where such a move will involve swapping out a hundred different cogs and every task seems to turn into a yak shave
At some point, the work starts to feel almost claustrophobic, and this is where mentoring comes in. A mentor must be able to…
…be a sounding board for ideas or frustrations, which sometimes involves just being a rubber duck but more often requires combining empathy, insight and technical knowledge to help shape IT strategy
…bring relevant experience and ideas from elsewhere to shine a light on possible solutions
…use their wide ranging experience to research and evaluate potential systems or solutions
…understand how to create staff structures and engagement so an IT dept can perform at its best, and coach managers in those leadership skills
I find working with IT departments, and especially heads of IT, a fascinating and hugely rewarding part of my work. Cross-pollinating ideas between organisations, helping reshape thinking around how IT “fits in”, and coaching managers to have the confidence to push forward in the right direction are all very satisfying when done successfully.
Read more about my creative approach to technology.