Mon 5 Jul 2010
I came across an interview that Nick Heath of silicon.com had with Jeanne Ross, one of M.I.T.’s IT gurus. The article was called “How to Supercharge your IT Dept.”. In the article, Jeanne Ross talked about some of the things IT departments needed to do to go from being order takers to business change drivers. At one point, Nick Heath asks Jeanne what she felt were the important skills CIOs need today to be successful. Although she said that CIOs had to be strong technically she believed that it was not the most important skill. She felt that to be successful, CIOs needed to have the ability to manage and the vision to achieve corporate goals.
Now I can see many CIOs nodding their heads in agreement. But what is questionable is whether that agreement gets put into action. I still see too many CIOs that place more importance on either their technical abilities or trying to meet the expectations and demands of their boss/CEO and peers. Those are important considerations that require attention but so does the management of your team. Often CIOs get so busy with the tactical demands of their job that they relegate the management of the people to their direct reports. Sometimes the CIOs are not comfortable with the people side of their job and try to avoid dealing with the complexity that comes with managing an assortment of people each with their own set of needs, skills, and problems.
But that’s where the real success of the CIO lies. With his or her people. There are many examples in the corporate world of leaders with no technical expertise being brought in to run IT departments that were successful at doing it. Their success came out of the fact that they were great leaders and had an ability to manage people and motivate them to do their best.
I can remember times in my corporate career when I worked for a boss who knew nothing about IT yet he (or she) took an interest in my work. He took the time to get to know me as a person and made sure that I was challenged so that I could grow professionally. Unfortunately, I have worked for bosses who were not like that, who did not have an ability to manage and I know that I did not push myself as hard to succeed as when I worked for a boss who did.
Taking the time to get to know your team and to genuinely show them that you have an interest in their development and success in the company is a sure way to get them to give you their all. That connection breeds powerful results.
For the newest of your employees, the Millennials, that connection is even more powerful. Not only do they seek that connection but in doing so, you will better understand how they think and how they work. And here’s the best part: you don’t even have to connect with all of them. Getting exposure to even a few of them with good results is all you need to do. The Millennials will do the rest. They will spread the good results through their network of coworkers. This creates a positive atomsphere and that creates positive results for the team.
What have you done lately to reach out to individual members of your team? When was the last time you took a Millennial to lunch? Might surprise you… I was – pleasantly so.