Communicating openly and honestly Creating an awesome work environment Pursuing opportunities for diversification and growth By Kyle Danielson April 3, 2020

Learning From Nelnet Leaders – The Magic Behind Management

The workplace is constantly changing, so it’s paramount to have management that can bring out the best in a team, no matter what the circumstances may be. Our associates are constantly learning from Nelnet leaders who keep everything moving in the right direction.

Two of our wonderful IT Managers, Ryan Hansen and Matt Oestmann, were kind enough to share a drop of the secret sauce that is their management philosophies.

How do you help your team succeed? 

Ryan – My main goal as a manager is to get out of my team’s way.  My staff have the knowledge and skill to be successful, and it’s up to me to get obstacles out of their way so they can succeed.

Matt – I assume positive intent and let people be their natural, creative self. My goal is to help folks find the answers they already have. I try to do this by being genuinely curious and approach conversations from a learning standpoint so that we can find common ground. If I can do this, we can have an engaging conversation and move closer to realizing our goals.

How would you define a successful day at work?

R – I think a successful day for my team involves two things.

  • Helping our customers get what they need as quickly as possible.
  • Improving on the way we do our work.  This can be anything from gaining new knowledge at an individual level, to improving a team process to be more efficient.

M – I love when I am learning. If I can learn something while working with others who are passionate and we can make progress towards our goals, this meets the bar for a successful day.

How do you manage stress on your team? 

R – Our job is very high paced, and having time out of the queue to decompress is critical to being successful. In addition to breaks, we are restructuring our team’s work to give more variety in their work throughout the day. Transitioning between work can give associates the ability to refocus, and alleviate some of the stress that can accumulate in their roles.

M – By trying to help the team take a step back. We all get so caught up in the immediate need that it can be easy to forget we’re all here for each other. If I can help the team step away for just a moment and connect with each other in a communal way, I think that can go a long way.

What are some things you do to keep your team motivated and build chemistry? 

R – We have been finding opportunities for our staff to get involved with other IT teams and their day-to-day work.  This creates career pathing and knowledge transfer between teams.  We are also hosting on-site training sessions for staff this spring, which will give our staff the opportunity to be out of their day-to-day work and engage with each other in a training environment.

M – I love having my weekly team meetings. Bringing all of my teams together in one format and sharing information with each other is one of my favorite parts of the week. We become so focused on the day-to-day priorities of our individual teams that it’s nice to step back and be with others. I enjoy that we can be a little silly with each other while taking a small break to connect with each other during the day.

What do you think is the most important quality a team must have to be successful? 

R – Empathy.  We would all serve ourselves, our teams, our departments, and our company better if we had more empathy for each other. It leads to better communication, better teamwork, and better results. IT can be very logical and non-empathetic, but the most successful teams in IT understand their customers and their feelings, and that leads to the best results.

M – Flexibility, respect for one another, a passion for growth, and the willingness to have honest conversations with each other. Every team will face changes/challenges and how they approach these situations and interact with each other during this process will determine how successful the team will be.

If you want to work under one of our amazing leaders like Ryan or Matt, take a gander at our open IT positions.




Kyle Danielson

Associate Creative Writer

Kyle Danielson is an associate creative writer for Nelnet. He works on a number of different writing projects for Nelnet's vast array of businesses. Kyle's favorite part of his job is that he can (sometimes) incorporate horrendous puns into his writing. In his free time, Kyle likes to inhale ramen and hide from the sun playing video games.