CTS – Your Technology Partner

Three Must Have Skills to Grow Your Team While Maintaining Your Sanity

Written by Brendan Thompson on July 23, 2015

Are you a director, manager, or project lead who can never seem to catch up on work activities, let alone get ahead?

On a daily basis, most of us must balance tactical and strategic initiatives. We may have a software release that must be ready for user acceptance next Monday, an application that must be retired by year-end, or an initial draft of next year’s budget that must be ready by the beginning of Q3. Then an application crashes in production, an important customer calls to express concern with a delivery, or a VP drops by to request a new, mission-critical report. How do we balance long-term, strategic initiatives with the day-to-day tactical activities? We could undertake fewer initiatives and accomplish fewer projects, but that approach doesn’t exactly support the mission of IT enabling the business. A better solution involves growing the skills of high-potential team members to increase their leadership capacity and the team’s output. Sounds great, right? But where do we begin? What skills do we grow? Focus on the three areas below with your top team members, and you’ll accomplish more with less stress.

Business Insight: IT can’t exist without business ideas to improve and problems to solve. Understand and internalize your business, and become indispensable to your partners. Focus on the competencies and behaviors below to maximize the business insights of your high-potential team members:

  • Model current business processes
  • Estimate solutions and calculate return on investment
  • Make decisions in spite of ambiguity and trade-offs
  • Maintain ethical and legal obligations
  • Identify pain points and areas of improvement
  • Recognize time and budget constraints and incentive plans
  • Understand financial statements
  • Understand audit requirements

Technical Understanding: Technology is the easy part, right? Not so fast! The writings of Moore and Kurzweil, which tell us that the capabilities and effects of digital technologies are expanding exponentially, have held true for over forty years. Focus on the competencies and behaviors below to maintain and embrace the pace of technological change within your high-potential team members:

  • Integrate enterprise internal and public systems
  • Visualize information for customer consumption and decision-making
  • Maintain knowledge of on premises and cloud-based architectural patterns
  • Aggregate data from internal and external sources
  • Understand customer security requirements and technology security vulnerabilities
  • Commit to lifelong learning

Effective Communication: It’s almost clichéd at this point, but IT leaders must be able to understand and express complex business problems and technical solutions through speech and documentation. Focus on the competencies and behaviors below to maximize the communication skills of your high-potential team members:

  • Lead meetings and speak with confidence
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Understand individual and group dynamics
  • Conduct principled negotiation
  • Build relationships
  • Write clearly and succinctly
  • Motivate others
  • Direct and delegate to others

Create a culture that focuses on the identification and growth of high-potential team members. Start by developing their business, technical, and communication skills, but don’t stop there. Let these individuals own initiatives and make decisions. Celebrate successes, mentor through failures, and you’ll establish a team that produces more for customers with less anxiety for you. And I’m proud to say I never used the words innovation or entrepreneur.