• United States
Managing Editor, Network World Fusion

Changes ahead

Sep 23, 20034 mins
Data Center

* What’s in store for this newsletter; the top three skills you need to be a great manager

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The Network World on Management Strategies newsletter will be undergoing some changes starting Oct. 2. First, the newsletter will have a new name: Network World on IT Leadership. The name will reflect a change in direction for the newsletter, which will now focus on your career issues as an IT leader, as well as some of the difficult challenges you face, such as ROI, budgets and getting more out of your staff, vendors and contracts. Second, this newsletter will have a new author, Amy Schurr, who may not be new to all of you. She’s the author of the popular Network World on Careers newsletter, which will be folded into IT Leadership.

With the business out of the way, I’d like to use my final two newsletters to recap what I think are the three most important concepts covered over the life of the Management Strategies newsletter. We covered a lot of ground in the nearly three years of its existence, but here are the top three things I’d like you to take away from our time together.

1. Planning is Job 1. If you want to be a great leader, you have to plan. Like a good chess player, you have to learn to think ahead and see the obstacles and opportunities on the horizon. Everything from planning your day to your department’s goals for the next fiscal year, it’s not gonna just happen. If you fail to plan, you’re going to get surprised by issues and you’re going to feel stressed and crunched for time. Take a time management class, read a book or follow a system, such as Franklin Covey or Day Runner. Which is best? Whatever works for you. You could have everything written down on the back of napkins, as long as you have a handle on what you have to do today, tomorrow and next quarter. Will you be perfect? Of course not, but you’ll be a lot better off than if you were flying by the seat of your pants.

2. Communication is key. Have a regular staff meeting when everyone can get together, discuss projects and bring up issues. Communicate as much information regarding company changes (good or bad) as you’re allowed. Respond to e-mails and phone calls as quickly as you can. If you’re not giving them the answers they need, you’re not just holding them up, you’re delaying whatever project they’re working on. Let staff know when you’re available and when you’re not, and encourage the same from them. If you tout an open door policy, make sure your door is actually open. That sounds stupid, but you’d be surprised how many managers go on and on about they’re “there” for their employees and their doors are always closed or they never respond to queries for help in a timely fashion.

3. Sincerely care about them as people. Want to foster a great (or at least respectful) relationship with your employees? Talk to them, look at them and listen to them. Visit their cubes to just shoot the bull. When you’re talking to them about their personal lives, chances are something work-related may pop up. Who wants to work for someone who thinks they’re just a number in a headcount? And when you’re communicating with them, physically devote your entire body to the task. If you’re at your desk, look at them (not the monitor) and physically turn your body to them. Give them the attention they deserve. If you’re ever at a loss for how to do this, follow the example Charles Dickens set in “A Christmas Carol” in the form of old Fezziwig, Scrooge’s first boss. Of his mentor, Scrooge says: “He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. “

Next week I’ll wrap up our time together with a list of my favorite management resources. The archive of Management Strategies stories will continue to be available for you at