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You can have an incredible IT department staff and hire people with the best possible technical skills… but without strong management, your department can still falter. With that in mind, learning about effective IT management strategies is crucial to ensuring that you set your team – and your organization – up for success. 

In this article, we will share some of our top tips for effectively managing IT department teams. We will discuss setting appropriate goals and targets, motivating your team, promoting ongoing education, conducting performance reviews, and improving efficiency, among other topics. And best of all, we will highlight some key tools to support you along the way. We hope that by the end of this article, you will feel equipped to lead your team with direction and compassion. 

Setting up goals and targets

When you think about motivating and leading your IT department effectively, it is important to consider what kinds of results you want to achieve. You will need to set up goals and targets for your team – but it’s important to remember that not all goals are created equal. We like the “SMART” goal framework.

What is the SMART goal framework? This structure is meant to help you quickly and easily evaluate whether or not your goals are worth pursuing. SMART is an acronym that stands for… 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into how you can use each of the “SMART” criteria to set better goals that will effectively motivate your team and benefit your organization as a whole. 

#1: Set specific goals

Make sure that your goals are specific rather than broad. Setting a specific goal will allow you to more easily assess progress and measure your success. For instance, take a goal like, “Improve IT department efficiency.” While this is a great overall idea for your department, it’s not incredibly specific. How are you going to improve efficiency? In what areas? 

Instead, you might set a goal like this one that is more specific: Improve IT department efficiency by reducing ticket-resolution times

#2: Set measurable goals

A measurable is one that allows you to easily – and usually, numerically – quantify progress. Let’s stick with the goal from our previous example. If we are going to reduce ticket-resolution times, that is a measurable criteria. We can compare current ticket resolution times vs. ticket resolution times three or six months down the road. 

However, we will also need to know when that goal is met. So we might add another phrase to the goal that defines measurable criteria for success. For instance, see this updated version of our goal: Improve IT department efficiency by reducing ticket-resolution times by 50%. 

#3: Set attainable goals

Of course, we want to ensure our goals are realistic. If you set goals that are not attainable and your team continues to fail, that is not motivating. With repeat failure comes a failure mindset, so it is important to set your team up for success and encourage following through on said goals by making sure those goals are, in fact, realistic. 

#4: Set relevant goals

This one sounds pretty obvious, but it is very important. You need to ensure that the goals you are setting are relevant – not only in the sense that they are related to IT, but also in the sense that they support the company’s larger goals. Then, make sure that you communicate to your team how their efforts in IT are contributing to the bigger picture. 

#5: Set time-bound goals

When you set a goal, you do not want it to continue on indefinitely. You want to set a timeline for when you would like to achieve that goal – whether it is one year, five years, or shorter times like three to six months. With that in mind, see how the time-bound criteria plays out in our example: Improve IT department efficiency by reducing ticket-resolution times by 50% over the next six months. 

Now, the criteria for success is clearly defined and your team knows what they are working for. Involving the team in creating and fulfilling these goals, while also connecting them to the larger picture of company success and ensuring that you mention the goal frequently (not just during performance review season) will help these goals become reality!

IT department performance metrics

Evaluating performance in your department as a whole is also important. When you define IT department performance metrics that are clearly stated and involve your team in generating these metrics, all you need to do is track your progress. Then, if you see one area falling behind, you can set a targeted SMART goal to address any issues. 

Here are a few suggestions of IT department performance metrics to consider when you are figuring out how to manage IT department personnel: 

  • Response-based metrics: mean time to respond, mean time to resolve, user satisfaction ratings, first call resolution rates
  • Performance-based metrics: infrastructure downtimes, frequency of planned and unplanned outages, mean time between failures, network capacity, online application performance, defect containment
  • Organization-based metrics: IT technician satisfaction ratings, workforce productivity, overtime hours
  • Cost-based metrics: capital and expense cost, cost per ticket, cost per unit asset, cost per user, cost per software platform

You will need a strong reporting system to accurately track your progress. That’s where tools like Atera can come into play and support you in effectively managing your IT department. Atera’s all-in-one RMM (remote monitoring and management) platform offers advanced reporting and analytics so that you can easily pull the stats you need with just a few clicks. 

When you are analyzing cost-related metrics, it can be helpful to vet different products to see where you may be able to achieve savings. For instance, if you are struggling with increasing costs per endpoint as your company grows and scales, you may want to consider a platform with a different pricing model. At Atera, our one-of-a-kind pricing structure offers a pay-per-technician model that makes it easy to grow and scale while staying within your IT budgetwithout breaking the bank. 

Conducting performance reviews

Everyone hates performance reviews, right? But what if they could be an opportunity for your employees to learn and grow instead of a dreaded season of the year. Studies have shown that conducting performance reviews more frequently reduces stress and anxiety around these events and makes it easier for employees to shine and emphasize their strengths. 

When you conduct performance reviews, it is a good time to talk through the aforementioned IT department metrics and SMART goals that you have set with your department. We also suggest prompting your IT technicians to complete a self-review beforehand. This will give them the opportunity to reflect on their own accomplishments and places they want to improve, too. 

Creating a culture of ongoing feedback is an important piece of effective IT management. You want to build a team in which it’s okay to make a mistake – as long as you are willing to learn and grow from it. In your performance reviews, we suggest emphasizing educational opportunities in IT and chances for employees to continue building their skill sets. 

Training and personal development

Sometimes training and personal development is fun and engaging… and other times, it’s boring and monotonous. But here’s the truth: When employees are distracted or bored during training, they’re not getting much out of it. So instead of having your employees read through dry, old training manuals or zone out during record training sessions, try to mix it up. 

In the IT space, Atera’s new Apollo IT game is a fun, AI-powered adventure that challenges seasoned IT pros and rookie team members alike as they strive to resolve a series of increasingly difficult puzzles by interacting with the game’s AI chat bot. It is a great way to promote education in a way that still feels fun and interactive. 

There are many different ways to make training and personal development engaging and enjoyable, but no matter how you do it, make sure to make these educational opportunities accessible and frequent. Access to educational resources will empower your team to continue working on their skills and becoming even better at their jobs. 

Tools to support IT department management

As you look for effective IT management and leadership skills, equipping yourself with the right tools is a surefire way to make progress. Programs that enhance efficiency, like Atera’s AI-powered IT innovations, can help your team achieve their goals faster, expand their knowledge and capabilities, and drive efficiency for the whole company. 

With Atera in your back pocket, you will be able to leverage your IT resources to the max – including human resources. Let’s kick off your journey to better leadership together. Get in touch with our sales team to try a demo of Atera’s tools today. 

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