If someone is responsible for IT, they must have an IT background (education too). Where do you draw the line? Title.
A Chief Executive officer doesn’t need a background in IT, but a Chief Information Officer should. Don’t have a CIO? The rule applies down the line, if your top IT employee reports to a COO, a CFO, or even an Operations Manager, that’s fine. Notice none of those titles suggest a background in IT. It’s when a manager with a different background becomes responsible for IT and is given a title like “IT Manager” that causes a problem for them, and in the ranks.
Why is this important? A mismatch in title can create the feeling that a person should have experience they don’t. The non-technical IT Manager now feels like they have to try to speak tech. That attempt breeds mistrust in the ranks. Technology employees can smell a faker like bread in the oven. If someone above them has a technology title but no technology background, it creates a feeling that real IT experience isn’t valued, and there will be no trust gained by the manager in that position.
It goes the other way too. If you have a new technology hire, or an existing employee has made a transition from one role to a technology role, make the title appropriate. An inappropriate title shows a lack of respect for the position and the work.
Along with clear titles, IT teams should have clear definition. Every staff member under that top, appropriately titled position, should be an IT person. There was a differing philosophy running around years ago that put one or two technology support staff within departments that had a need of one FTE, but what resulted from that structure was a feeling of separation, and a segmentation of support. Which department got the more senior staff? How would IT support staff escalate a problem beyond their experience? Your core technology staff will (or at least should) work with everyone in your organization. Who at your company doesn’t have a computer?
Again, don’t muddy the IT structure with disjointed groups. There is a jagged line between technology users and technology professionals, and a company will serve all of their employees better by straightening it. Often the mistake is made that specialized software users are technology professionals. Placing your CAD group in IT because they use special software diminishes the value of both groups. Sure there may be a CAD group employee that is so technically savvy, they start performing technical tasks for the company aside from their regular CAD duties. Move that employee to IT. They can support the CAD group when needed. Foster your technical employees to do more, and you’ll see a benefit all around.
No team building
Spend a little money and support the team as a unit. If you have a true technology person at the lead, they’ll know how. LAN parties, go bowling, heck, even a long lunch with some team exercise. A little goes a long way with a technology group. But no team building with IT groups can have a greater negative effect than with many other groups. What technology employees can accomplish as a team is staggering compared to what they can accomplish alone. Synergy is truly realized in your IT team when they get used to working together.