Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Five CIO tips

I just went to a CIO roundtable event in Boston. Every time I go to one of these I'm always reminded how similar our problems are. Some of these CIO's ran billion dollar companies, others were a few hundred people in a law office, but the problems are the same. Here are some of my tips to help my fellow CIO's and IT managers out.

1. Mingle.  I am a big fan in, gasp, eating lunch in the company cafeteria. Not because the food is that good, though luckily ours is, but because it gives people a chance to see you and get to know you. It's really hard to dislike someone you have had lunch with, well unless they really are a jerk, but hating "The man" seems pretty easy for most.

2. Do what's right for the company, not what's right for you. A lot of times I see CIO's protecting their turf, or pushing a pet project when it's good for them, even if it's nor the best thing for the company overall. Let's be honest, it's hard to say "You know maybe we can not replace that headcount, so we can spend more on marketing". We all get a little hung up on the size of our budgets or org charts, but as a senior executive your job is to do what's right for the company.

3. "Give credit, take blame". When your team does something great, as the leader, you automatically look good. If you then give credit to the team members, you almost get double the credit. The opposite is true with blame. If your team does something wrong, it reflects on you. By accepting the blame you do two things. You end the conversation and show the team that you have them covered. Now if someone does something truly wrong you do need to take action either through training or stronger action, but by not playing the blame game you help foster a culture that encourages people to try new things.

4. Sharing knowledge is key. It's important for senior members to share what they know, but many times people will try to hoard information to make sure that only they know something so they can't be fired. As a CIO you need to encourage people to share what they know so that the senior resources can be working on more senior tasks. Focus on highlighting this and make it part of your culture and your team will flourish

5. Information is power. 99% of the time if everyone has the same information we will come to the same conclusion. When we make mistakes is when not everyone has the same information. Perfect example, we had a remote office and the data circuit contract was up. Well there was a big price difference between 12 and 24 months, so I signed a 24 month contract. Unfortunately what I did not know was that the lease was up on the building in 6 months. Had I known that clearly I would not have signed a two year contract. Not knowing cost us money and frustration.

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