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So how do you make engagement viral?

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 06-24-2010 Print

So how do you make engagement viral?

JONES: In the phrase "information technology," there's an "I" and a "T." There's a value opportunity for IT leaders to appropriately blend the two. The "T" is the technology--the networks, the storage, PCs, devices, Web browsers, etc. They've all been simplified to the point where they're commodities.

The other side of the equation is the "I." That stands for innovation, insights and information. Those things should be highly valuable and highly visible.

Our business partners don't always understand the difference between the "I" and the "T." CIOs have to enable the business to understand the difference and also grasp what the value proposition will be for IT.

Recently, I met with our board and shared our IT strategy. I talked about the "I" versus the "T," so they would understand that we have an environment of technology that's very mature, stable and compliant, but we also provide insight to the business. We have to invest in the "I" and the "T" to drive value for Hospira.

If we treat our people as if they're just the "T"--a commodity--that's exactly how they will behave: as drones that can be reduced based on cost rather than raised because of value. They will not be inspired or empowered. They won't learn, grow and produce. They won't feel the passion. We have to treat our employees like the "I": valuable, visible, vested and invested.

Our human resources department started something we call IGNITE. It's about working to inspire people to be excellent, to instill new capabilities in them and to invest in their development.

If you support employees and develop them and treat them like the "I," then they become more valuable and will command more investment. They'll also be more visible to business partners. Right now, too many people in IT are invisible--the other side of the "black hole"--and other people don't understand [what IT does].

So I treat people in the "I" category by inspiring, instilling and investing in them--empowering our people. Then I share my expectations of how they should treat people. And then everyone starts to feel it.

In my first few months here, I was so busy trying to find my way around that I didn't do enough walking around to talk with employees. When I started doing that, the next day I got an e-mail from one of our employees that said, "Wow, the last CIO didn't do that" and "Daphne really seems to care." I didn't know how impactful it was to the organization for me to simply walk around and talk with people. So now I build it into my schedule each day to walk around and be visible.

It's a cliché: "People don't care how much you know; they just want to know how much you care." If you show you care and treat your people like the "I" and not just the "T," it becomes viral. And our engagement scores should greatly improve because of these ideas.

What other tactics are you using to boost engagement?

JONES: I'm working with Chicago Mayor [Richard M.] Daley on the Mayor's Council of Technology Advisors. I'm also the co-chair of the subcommittee on health care IT. The IT team at Hospira is anxious to help the mayor work in the health care IT space. That program is just getting off the ground, and I can't wait to tell you more about it when we've made some real headway.

Another group inside the mayor's council is Chicago Career Tech. Mayor Daley was on a plane and sat next to a young woman from Chicago who had lost her job. She was struggling with how she'd get back into the workforce.

Realizing how important IT is, Daley formed Chicago Career Tech, where 150 people train for two days learning IT skills, then work for a company in Chicago for two days, and then do community service for another two days, with one day off. They're being trained in Microsoft technology, project management, vendor management, help desk support and other important responsibilities.

When I heard about this, I wanted to sign us up. It's not just because we get people for two days a week to lend a hand to our staff. There are people in IT who want to do something for the community, and this helps them do that.

It also helps people in IT get supervisory experience. If they're not managers today but want to supervise someone for two days a week for six months, this program will help with their development. The more we can touch the hearts of our people--especially Generation Y--while being productive for Hospira, the more it will help with our employee engagement.


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