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Tech Manager—Managers, What Should Continue or Be Improved?

We looked at what to Start and Stop in the last two articles. Now we turn to things that should Continue or be improved. Not everything is a new startup and not everything should be stopped. Some things need to just keep on going as they are or keep going with a little more polish.

So here are some ideas on what you need to continue to do or seek to improve.

Continue to Ask Others for Help

You have a lot of answers. When people ask you something, you most likely have a ready answer to their question related to the software, or project flow, or whatever. But as you move into management, you may find that you do not have the answer to all questions. But others do. You need to keep asking for others to help. Not just to answer the questions, but to provide solutions and hands-on help. You need to multiply your impact by multiplying your confederates. Those that can help in a pinch. Those that can help when you are not around. Build a loose team of supporting folks to help. I have often provided the answer to a question with this… “I don’t know the answer, but I know who does.” And then we go visit that person together.

Continue Asking Questions

This is related to the above. You have a lot of people coming to you for answers, but you need to also be asking questions and listening intently to the answers. Some will be related to how other people do things. Other will be “what if” questions. Other could be “Did you try this? What was the outcome?” Many times I have just used the simple “Tell me more.” Statements like that encourage others to share. And when they do, you learn more.

Continue to Learn

Training, not straining. When you encounter new technology or difficulties with what you already have, keep learning. Take a class. Read more books. Visit more websites. Talk to fellow experts. Search at AUGI.com.

Continue to Connect

Hang out with your old crowd, but understand that it will be a little different. You want to take them with you. They are not only your friends, they are your support group in times of trouble and your backstop when things might get past you (forgive the baseball metaphor). You want to remain friendly so they do not think you have just left them in the dust, but you need to be taken seriously as a leader now. And even when you do your best to keep them connected, they may view you differently now. It is a fine line to walk and tough to do, but keep making the connection as you lean into leadership.

Along the lines of this issue of AUGIWorld magazine (New and Improved), what should you improve?

Improve Your People Skills

Like the topic above, dealing with old teams and building new ones takes a lot of effort. You should read more about how to reach people, build trust, and rally the troops. People skills are usually perfected through trial and error. If you commit a faux pas, admit it, ask people to be forgiving, and try again. Don’t leverage relationships just to get something done. You get things done by the relationships you have, but you have to build them before you need them. Work on connecting and staying connected.

Improve Your Feedback Loop

Feedback is invaluable to a manager. Knowing the impact of what has happened or what was done helps you down the road. Course correction is done based on feedback. No one has a perfect plan for getting anything done. Errors happen. Bumps along the road will occur. By setting up a good feedback system, you set yourself up to stabilize after a disruption.

A good feedback loop will include a way to communicate. You may use forms, emails, voicemails, or best of all, direct conversations to gather comments and suggestions. You want to ask the right people to provide input. Not only your allies, but sometimes the naysayers provide the best critique. You need to gather hard data. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) include how many, how often, how good, how bad. It needs to be timely, asked at the right time. Collected as the project moves forward or right after milestones. Get it while it is fresh. And when you get feedback, pay attention. Don’t just smile and say thanks. Collect it, review it, and coalesce it into actions.

Improve Your Success Rate

Everyone wants more success, right? Getting better at what you do is doubtless part of your DNA. Constant improvement is something you think about and do every day. Plan more, develop action items, define timelines, get moving—it’s that simple, right? Sure, but it is also that hard. Making a plan takes time and thought, but it helps so much. Don’t undercut your success rate by taking a low view of planning. Dig in, think it through, define options, and write it all down. Then make an action plan. What to do first, second, third. Don’t deviate from your steps unless you really have a better idea. Defining a timeline is more for general expectation management. Timelines always slip, but having one allows others to know what to expect and when. And finally, get moving. Lead by example and expend your efforts in front of others. Let people know that you are moving ahead and want them to join you. Success does not happen when there is nothing going on. You need to motivate yourself and others to make progress.

Series Summary

The last three articles have taken you into the Start, Stop, Continue world of a new CAD/BIM/Tech Manager. You saw some ideas about things you may want to start doing. Pick one or two and make it happen. Stopping some processes may be the most important thing you do at the start. Within the first 100 days I suggest you stop something that most staffers will support getting rid of. There is always something that can be stopped. And finally Continue/Improve, the positive side of refining what your firm does to be successful. By focusing your thought process, you can make some very positive impacts on your team, company, and industry.

Mark Kiker has more than 25 years of hands-on experience with technology. He is fully versed in every area of management from deployment planning, installation, and configuration to training and strategic planning. As an internationally known speaker and writer, he is a returning speaker at Autodesk University since 1996. Mark is currently serving as Director of IT for SIATech, a non-profit public charter high school focused on dropout recovery. He maintains two blog sites, www.caddmanager.com and www.bimmanager.com .

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