Hiring and Firing Prove Hardest Duties

Our readers tell us which IT tasks they think are the most difficult (and easiest) to carry out.

Laying off part (or all) of the IT staff is the toughest job an IT manager will face in his or her career. That’s what 403 enterprise systems professionals told us in our “ES Power 100” reader survey.

Our survey participants scored laying off at an average of 4.8 on a difficulty scale of 6, the highest score given to any of the 16 IT tasks we asked them to rank. Those in IT management thought the job was even tougher than that, rating it 4.9.

Easiest jobs for IT managers:

  • Supporting end users
  • Managing remote (domestic) IT operations
  • Fending off top management efforts to replace mainframes

Toughest IT jobs:

  • Laying off IT staff
  • Finding and hiring well-qualified IT staff
  • Justifying new IT project expenses to senior management

Female managers found the layoff task much more difficult than their male counterparts. They rated staff layoffs at a resounding 5.3 on our scale and, in general, seemed to find tasks involving persuasion or confrontation—such as convincing management not to retire the mainframe—more difficult. However, they felt that just about everything else on our list was easier than for male managers.

The industry you’re working in makes some difference in the layoff question; IT managers at tech-based companies ranked laying off staff at a slightly better-than- average 3.6, while those working for non-tech companies characterized the duty at a more onerous 3.9.

Not surprisingly, those who were less likely to have to perform a task were more likely to see it as an easy job than those actually faced with carrying it out.

Task All (average) Employer
type
Gender Profession
Tech Tech Tech Female Management Systems Admins Development Systems Support-Help Desk

Laying off people on your IT staff

4.8 4.6 4.9 4.7 5.3 4.9 4.4 4.8 3.8

Finding and hiring well-qualified staff

4.5 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.3 4.5 4.5 4.6 5.0

Sorting through new technology
claims to find the right product

4.5 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.2 4.5 4.3 4.5 4.0

Justifying new IT project expenses
to senior management

4.4 4.5 4.3 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.2 4.5 3.8

Maintaining Web site security

4.3 4.3 4.2 4.3 4.1 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.3

Bringing large projects in on budget

4.3 4.4 4.1 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.3 4.0

Managing remote (international)
IT operations

4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.3 2.7

Bringing large projects in on time

4.2 4.3 4.1 4.2 3.9 4.2 4.1 4.2 3.8

Maintaining network security

4.2 4.2 4.1 4.2 4.0 4.3 4.1 4.0 4.0

Explaining technology requirements
to non-tech management

4.1 4.1 4.0 4.1 4.0 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.5

Developing budgets and forecasts for
IT operations

3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9 4.1 3.9 3.8 4.0 3.5

Negotiating software license agreements

3.8 3.7 3.8 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.6 3.9 4.7

Developing training programs for staff

3.7 3.8 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.7 3.8 3.6 3.8

Managing remote (domestic) IT operations

3.6 3.5 3.6 3.6 3.5 3.6 3.6 3.5 2.7

Fending off top management’s efforts
to replace the mainframe

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.7 3.2 3.5 4.1 2.7

Supporting end users

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.1 3.7 3.4 3.3 3.3

About the Author

Cynthia Morgan is a longtime technology journalist and former Senior Editor for Enterprise Systems.