Why eschew management training

It’s long struck me how ill prepared IT specialists are for management responsibilities.

As long ago as 1992 when we first began to offer the ITIL “Managers” course we were surprised at how poorly developed were the presentation skills of the course attendees. Our students were often tongue-tied and seemed incapable of marshalling their thoughts to convey the simplest of ideas. They also struggled with any aspect of financial management – even simple budgeting techniques were totally alien to them.

As we delved further into the management skills that were required to transform highly competent technical specialists into team leaders it also became apparent that motivational and performance management skills were also absent.

I have been at the Learning & Skills / Learning Technologies exhibitions this week. During the two days I was there, I spoke to many HR managers from a whole range of organisations – public and private, large and small. A common theme of our conversations was the under-development of general management skills within IT specialists.

Perversely, it seems, training to support these skills are readily available. Sysop, for example, has a range of management development courses specifically designed for IT specialists.

The shocking revelation, from the HR people I spoke to, was that IT specialists are incredibly reluctant to undertake this training. When it is identified as a logical career development step, they view it as some sort of punishment detail.

So, why do we IT guys shy away from developing our management skills? What is it about our psyche that makes us view them as a chore rather than an essential and enjoyable career development step?

I confess, I don’t know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stuart Sawle

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