The importance of morale

More Middle East IT managers need to invest time in morale-building exercises for the team to ensure the group's loyalty to the firm, reduce turnover and increase its collective productivity

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  January 22, 2008

The IT team at Kamal Osman Jamjoom, a major retail organisation, is a good example of what can be achieved when a group of people work as one for achieving a goal. The team has updated the organisation's primary datacentre, put in new storage and servers, and upgraded the network backbone within an incredible ten months last year. (Read more about how they planned for and achieved such speed in the cover story of NME's February issue).

Mohammed Thameem Rizvon, the group IT manager of the organisation does not hesitate to give most of the credit for the achievement to his team. Rizvon is also one of those rare IT managers who make time in their busy implementation and support functions to provide support and guidance to their team. KOJ, in fact, stands as testimony that such activities can be neglected only at the long term peril of the IT team and the organisation.

Team development and care is an essential part of an IT manager's role. When you are the leader of a group, it is natural that members of your group will look to you for guidance and support. Effort and time spent on helping individual members of your team can help reduce turnover, increase their collective productivity and increase individual project efficiency. What's more, IT managers are likely to find natural, but hidden, talents in some members of the team, which, when identified, can help the particular person to either move up or horizontally within the organisation. It is not unknown for IT team members to move to various operational functions in a business, but this is often the case when their line manager recognises, encourages and helps them in developing their skill sets in that area.

To achieve that kind of capability and loyalty from the team, network managers need to make a few hours at regular periods of time to assess a member's capability and where he would like to move onto next in the organisation. This can be either half-yearly or annual. When a talent or desire to move into business or finance related functions is discovered, the team leader should also be ready to broach the subject with his peers in the operational side to facilitate such a move.

However, most IT managers in Middle East organisations shy away from spending time to understand individual passions, needs and aspirations in their team. True, the volume of projects and the strict timelines prevent IT managers from having much time for team building exercises. But it is essential that more of them manage time better and ensure that they put in some effort to direct the career paths of their team.

As the Middle East gets more competitive, IT becomes an increasingly important differentiator and with the shortage of IT skills likely to last well into the future, a manager who is ready to invest time to develop his time, keep morale high and build careers, can make all the difference in the team's loyalty to the firm, its performance, its contribution to the business and, more often than not, indirectly influence the stability of the bottom line.

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