How to Be a Better Tech Leader

    By | Small Business

    Your IT team wants out. They’re looking for new opportunities right now, and your leadership approach may actually be encouraging them to leave.

    According to a survey conducted by my company, HealthITJobs.com, 74.8 percent of health IT professionals said they were planning to look for another job within the next year. What’s more, 51.3 percent of respondents rated their supervisor’s ability to lead and engage at a five or below, on a scale of one to 10.

    If you want your best IT pros to stick around, it’s time to step up your leadership. Here are a few ways you can better manage your IT team:

    Encourage new ideas

    Innovation drives technology forward, but your IT team may not feel comfortable sharing their ideas. In fact, a survey of U.S. employees published by 15Five in March found that just 15 percent of employees think their feedback is highly valued by managers.

    Another survey conducted by SHRM in 2014 found that the immediate supervisor’s respect for employee ideas was one of the most important factors in job satisfaction and engagement. If you’re not listening to the ideas of your IT team, you’re not leading them well.

    Don’t shoot anyone down, and take all ideas seriously. In addition, encourage your team to share their thoughts and to work on ideas and projects that interest them. Tech companies like Google are already doing this. They set aside a certain amount of time for employees to work on and explore their own ideas and projects.

    Keep communication open

    Leading a team is more than telling employees what to do, and when. It’s about building relationships and trust. To gain your tech team’s trust, you need to be transparent with them.

    In the 15Five survey, 81 percent of respondents said they would rather join a company that values open communication than trendy perks like free food and gym memberships.

    Keep your IT team in the loop, and encourage them to come to you with questions, concerns, and anything else they want to talk about. If you’re having trouble getting them to open up, you can hold ‘ask me anything’ meetings. Before the meeting, have employees anonymously submit their questions. Then, answer them all in detail during the meeting.

    Mitigate stress

    Tech is a stressful industry. There’s a constant stream of new products and concepts to learn, and a small workforce to handle problems and hiccups in systems and software.

    In the HealthITJobs.com survey, 52.2 percent of respondents said that on a scale from one to 10 they feel chronic stress levels at a six or above on an average workday.

    If you have a long list of tasks that needs to get done, you may think pressuring and challenging your IT team is an effective way to engage them and meet deadlines. But too much stress can have serious, negative health effects and wear your IT team out.

    Instead, look for ways to make the workplace a less stressful environment. Help overburdened team members, provide resources and support to the whole team, and encourage them to take breaks and time off after periods of high stress.

    Build a team

    Great individuals don’t automatically form a great team, and teamwork is lacking in the workplace. A 2013 survey of U.S. employees conducted by Cornerstone OnDemand found that 38 percent of respondents felt there wasn’t enough team collaboration at work, and 72 percent preferred face-to-face communication.

    Teamwork is essential in IT, but if you’re hiding behind email to communicate, you’re not setting a good example. Your IT professionals need leaders who will bring them together and create a team environment. Communicate with your team face-to-face whenever possible, and encourage them to do the same.

    In addition, emphasize the importance of teamwork, and encourage everyone to pitch in and help when needed. Make goals clear, so everyone is on the same page and working toward the same end result. Tech is a team effort, and it’s your job to get everyone to work together.

    To keep IT teams happy and working at their best, managers need to improve their leadership strategies. Making some small changes can make a big difference for your tech employees’ satisfaction.

    What do you think? Where do tech leaders need to step up their game?

    This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How to Be a Better Tech Leader

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