If you’ve just landed your first IT management role, you’re probably feeling a heady mix of excitement, trepidation and (hopefully) a desire to prove to those who promoted you that you’re worth your salt as a manager. If you’re coming from a contributory role, there’s a whole new skillset to get your head round as well as a fatter pay packet and a swankier sounding job title. To help you on your way, we’ve identified a few typical pitfalls for first time bosses to watch out for and the best ways to avoid them:
Trying to do things yourself
The adjustment from a task-focussed employee to a task-managing boss is one of the most difficult to make as you start your new position. It can be daunting when you realise the success of your team (and therefore your success as their manager) is dependent on your ability to coach, support and supervise people rather than be guided yourself. In your first few weeks, be conscious that you need to keep an eye on all your team members, but resist the temptation to do their jobs for them (see below.)
Getting bogged down in detail
Another all-too-easy trap to fall into is an overemphasis on detailed tasks designated to individual employees rather than an adjustment to focussing on the bigger picture. It’s a mindset some people find it difficult to escape, but if you don’t keep tabs on it you’re likely to end up as one of those dreaded micromanagers. Make a conscious effort to keep your eye on long-term goals, especially for your first few projects.
Being too eager to please
In a noble effort to make themselves popular with their team members, new leaders can find themselves making grandiose promises that they’ll find it hard, if not impossible, to stick to. Changing an unpopular but embedded system or finally making that shift to a more effective evaluation process might be easy crowd pleasers, but remember that there could be a good reason why changes haven’t been made sooner. Investigate thoroughly before making any big announcements and you’ll gain much more trust and respect from your colleagues in the long run.
Prioritising likeability over respect
Likeability and respect are regularly confused by first time managers. As a leader and key decision maker, sometimes you’ll have to make choices that won’t please everyone. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be personable and professional at work, just that you now have to prioritise what’s right for your organisation over individual demands. Your colleagues will ultimately respect you for the decisions you make if they’re implemented with the best intentions for the greater good.
With a host of important decisions to make, inexperienced managers can easily fall victim to what’s known as decision paralysis. They can overthink every aspect of a problem and end up unable to make a choice for fear of making the wrong call, so they delay and delay – causing additional issues down the road. If you know you have decision paralysis tendencies, try Forbes’ one-three-five approach to breaking it and helping you reach sensible outcomes.
As 2017 dawns, many of us are considering which tech events are worth booking in for its first six months. From specialist conferences to huge events with broader remits, the selection gets bigger and more difficult to navigate every year. Whether you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve in certain markets or simply want an opportunity to network with peers or potential clients, we’ve picked five Europe-based events that are worth the ticket price:
IoT Tech Expo 2017 : 23rd - 24th January : Olympia, London
As corporate, industrial and consumer excitement over the IoT continues to grow and investment reaches record levels, there’s a concurrent demand for a world class event to enable its growing body of experts to get together on European soil. As well as distinct ‘tracks’ to pique your interest – from smart cities and connected services to innovations and connected cities – the IoT Tech Expo features more than 200 top industry speakers and a huge range of case studies to boot.
Wearable Technology Show : 7 - 8 March : Excel, London
Billed as ‘the world’s leading event for connected technology’, this London-based event plans to pack in over 6000 delegates to hear about the latest innovations in wearables, IoT technologies, AR/VR and digital health. With a decidedly business/prosumer slant, the show promises to be a boon for those of you looking to expand your existing supply chain networks, implement a solid wearable strategy in your organisation or simply hear top notch speakers discuss where this fast moving field is headed next.
Cisco Live : 20 - 24 February : Messe Berlin
For IT professionals looking to reignite their professional spark, it doesn’t get much more inspiring than this vast event hosted by one of the world’s best known tech conglomerates. Of particular interest to senior IT managers and CIOs is the event’s IT Management Program, a section dedicated to leadership and innovation, as well as exploring ways to implement the latest key technology shifts in your company. Get in touch with the organisers ASAP to secure your place, this strand has sold out every year in the last five.
Women of Silicon Roundabout : May 11 : Tobacco Dock, London
As the industry continues to explore ways to encourage that ever elusive tech gender balance, the third installment of Women of Silicon Roundabout has become the go-to event for those looking to gain more insight into ways to improve it. With two sold out inceptions behind them, organisers have created a forward-thinking arena to allow all tech professionals to discuss ways to throw the industry open to women and girls. WOSR promises a series of innovative workshops, interactive panel discussions and over 1200 female attendees who are leading the way to a more balanced future.
The Next Web Conference : May 18 - 19 : Westerpark, Amsterdam
Organisers of this Amsterdam conference described its 2016 iteration as ‘more like a Coachella for co-founders and coders than a conference’. TNWC certainly feels more like a festival for IT professionals, CIOs and entrepreneurs than a traditional tech event, with a huge range of cutting edge keynote speakers on 7 stages. This is the one to go for if you’re on the lookout for the latest startup talent to invest in or partner with – the event boasts a selection of the most promising growth companies looking for exposure, mentoring, funding and customers.
As many CIOs and IT managers from the UK are being offered positions in South Africa’s burgeoning IT industry (and vice versa), we take a look at some key differences between the two countries’ employment law for those of you considering relocation:
Private sector pensions
There is no legal requirement for South African companies to provide any form of retirement scheme for employees, whether in the form of a provident fund, occupational pension or other arrangement. Most organisations, however, tend to have some sort of program in place – it’s definitely worth enquiring about a firm’s precise arrangement before accepting a job offer.
In the UK, a private employer is required by law to enrol all its UK workers in and contribute to a pension scheme. The regulations apply to all employees aged 22 and over who earn at least £10,000 per year. There’s also a host of additional legal requirements including offering opt-out options; the possibility of a ‘salary sacrifice’ (or SMART) scheme and certain information you should be kept up to date with. Again, we highly recommend you ask for more details when considering whether to take up an offer as private sector schemes in the UK can vary enormously.
Maternity and paternity leave
While female employees in South Africa have a legal right to four consecutive months of maternity leave, companies are under no obligation to offer paid maternity packages. Unpaid leave may begin up to four weeks before the birth of the baby. If you meet certain criteria and have been contributing to the country’s Unemployment Insurance Fund, you can claim up to 60 percent of your salary for the duration of your leave. It’s worth bearing in mind that the UIF is unavailable to foreign contract workers.
Maternity law in the UK is much more generous, though legal requirements vary between those classed as employees and workers taken on as independent contractors. Employees, umbrella employees and company directors who meet certain criteria, for example, are entitled to a 90 percent of their average earnings plus £139.58 for the first six weeks, dropping to £139.98 for the following 33 weeks. As always, this merits thorough investigation if it’s likely to apply to you.
Informing and consulting about transfers
British employees considering a move to the rainbow nation might be a little shocked to discover that there’s no requirement under South African law for employers to consult either employees or unions when a business is being transferred to new owners or merging with another organisation. This right to secrecy applies to both the transferer and the transferee, though the new employer is under the same legal obligations to its employees as the original one.
In the UK, by contrast, there is an explicit legal requirement for employers to keep employees and unions thoroughly informed of any impending business transfers or mergers. Company bosses must consult with union reps or elected spokespeople for employees, also informing them in writing the reasons, timing and economic implications of a transfer, among several other requirements.