Managing Logistics IT – Martie Bothma

Managing a logistics IT project is tough. There are so many components to take into consideration and to constantly monitor and measure. One of the toughest components is people management. A project, just like a business, is nothing without the people there to make it happen.

From my experience working in the logistics industry I know that this is a cut-throat business. Being a logistics IT project manager equals long hours, a lot of nail biting and a lot of compromising. It is also extremely rewarding and challenging (in a good way) and leaves you with the feeling of accomplishment after completion.

Managing project managers is a dynamic and challenging job requiring you to not only guide decisions but also visions, creativity, problem solving and communication. Communication is the most critical part of any project and this applies to project managers and clients, developers, sales teams, account management teams and all other stakeholders.

The number one thing that I have learned from managing IT managers in the Logistics iT field is the following: There is no greater quality than listening.

Project managers are out in the field, they communicate with clients, they consolidate and collaborate on all aspects of a project. Basically while a project is nearing its deadline they live and breathe that project – so it is up to me to make sure that I listen to them and apply what I know to the knowledge they are transferring to me to ensure that I can manage them to be the best project managers they can be.

Global business news provider Forbes reported five critical qualities that should be present in the modern manager and I cannot agree more:

  1. Managers should follow from the front:

Managers need to ensure that employees can reach the deadlines and objectives set out in their job descriptions – by removing hurdles and obstacles form their paths. Instead of just managing people, managers need to empower and engage with their employees. Previously, employees used to work hard to ensure that their managers succeeded; however, the modern manager now needs to work hard to ensure that employees succeed.

  1. Understand technology:

Managers need to understand technology and how it impacts and drives employees – to ensure efficient task completion. Managers who have a good understanding of what is happening with technology will always be able to adapt and evolve ahead of the competition. The realisation of an effective working environment relies on the degree to which tasks can be assigned, managed and delivered. Technology has enabled greater automation, accuracy and delivery of working tasks; therefore, managers need to stay on top of new developments to ensure continuous growth and delivery.

  1. Lead by example:

Employees cannot change and evolve if their managers are not doing the same. Therefore, managers should lead by example. Instead of sitting in an office telling employees what they should achieve, managers should be working alongside them to achieve the company’s objectives.

  1. Embrace vulnerability:

Organisations are not the military and instead of being frowned upon, vulnerability should be openly acknowledged to ensure that weak spots are identified and strengthened. If employees do not trust managers to assist them when they are struggling, mistakes will be covered up and an organisation will be beset with many weak spots, which will, ultimately, hinder growth.

Vulnerability also shows courage – which is a necessary aspect in employees. Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, says that “Vulnerability is the absolute heartbeat of innovation and creativity. There can be zero innovation without vulnerability.” Being vulnerable isn’t about being weak – it’s about being courageous; a key quality that every manager must have, going forward.

  1. Share Information:

It is imperative for employers to show employees what they are working for, why they have to perform certain tasks, and what they are achieving. This will ensure that employees are not blindly following orders because they have to, but are actually excited to reach the organisation’s goals – while being able to track their progress.