IT has become more complicated and demanding, but CIOs need to look after their staff in order to retain them—and keep them engaged and productive.
By Samuel Greengard
Over the last decade, every aspect of business and IT has become more demanding. Here are seven of the most common ways CIOs fall short in handling career development for managers and others:
Overwork everyone. Today's always-on 24x7x365 workplace heaps enormous demands on IT departments. In addition, keeping up with a blitz of projects and demands across the enterprise is next to impossible. Nevertheless, find a way to give employees some downtime so they can recharge. Otherwise, you will burn them out and lose them.
Embrace yesterday's technology. It's not your father's IT department. IT managers, developers and others want to work on interesting and stimulating projects, particularly in the cloud and mobile spaces. While projects must fit the overall strategic vision of the organization, it's critical to explore all reasonable opportunities and technologies. This will help your employees be better engaged.
Take a top-down and CIO-centric approach to IT. The days of a CIO serving as the gatekeeper for tech adoption are over. Business units are procuring IT—particularly cloud-based systems—with growing frequency. IT decision-making must occur in a more democratic basis and employees must feel empowered to make suggestions, present ideas and offer feedback.
Cling to unclear job definitions and descriptions. It doesn't take a genius to know that business, technology and IT are changing at warp speed. It's impossible to align organizational strategy with real-world tools, processes and development needs without carefully defining roles and job descriptions—and updating them on a regular basis.
Approach IT staffing from a cost perspective. Typically, companies add staff when times are good and reduce staff when times get tough. Unfortunately, this knee-jerk approach doesn't calibrate with actual business and IT requirements. Conduct an analysis and develop business cases— and require them from departments—in order to better understanding staffing models and how to generate greater value.
Skimp on training and skill development. In today's increasingly transient staffing environment, it's tempting to view employee development as a hefty expense and view training as a potential investment for competitors. However, employees, particularly Millennials, have high expectations about learning and base employment decisions heavily on what's in it for them. Dismiss them at your own risk.
Focus on building specialized knowledge. While there's always a need for gurus, experts and specialists, cross-training staff creates greater flexibility and IT agility over the long run. Today, the ability to adjust staffing rapidly and dynamically can determine whether projects soar or stumble.