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Managing Staff Time


IT author and consultant Harris Kern advocates personal discipline or "performance-mentoring" for IT departments and individual workers, and even teaches it using an almost psychological or therapeutic approach.

Tackling the problem means understanding it. Kern has identified almost 40 key challenges for IT groups. Some problems are organizational: IT doesn't understand the business impact of its work, or people's roles are blurry. Other problems are personal: IT workers have a hard time balancing their personal lives with work. Sometimes problems are in perception: Executives don't understand or appreciate IT's efforts and problems. The last issue can be especially serious, leading to unrealistic expectations, which leaves technology staffs scrambling to manage several projects, rather than focusing on what it can efficiently handle. Also, management may seem to capriciously alter project goals, erasing progress IT has made toward earlier goals and forcing it to begin anew.

Kern coaches individuals to manage themselves. IT workers are bright--sometimes brilliant--but that doesn't mean they are disciplined. IT must mentor itself, Kern says, because the HR-driven "annual review" is useless for IT. In technology, a year is an eternity.

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