by Paul Rudo on 05/08/12 at 1:20 pm
For IT managers and CIOs, it’s not enough to simply have experience and technical know-how. Above all, the single most important career success factor has to do with the soft skill and business skills of the technology leader in question.
IT is no different than any other department within the organization. They compete for the same resources, they must carefully manage office politics, and they must ensure that their contributions to the organization are clearly understood and appreciated by stakeholders, partners and decision makers.
For this reason, I’ve put together a short list of 9 important areas that – when addressed – can greatly contribute to the successful careers of CIOs and IT managers.
Work Hard To Hire The Best Talent And Keep Them Happy
Hiring quality talent that fits into your culture can be very difficult. But hiring slow and firing fast can be a smart investment in the long term. If you want IT to be viewed as a core strategic asset for the organization, it’s absolutely essential that you have a killer team – with smart, ambitious, likeable people – at your disposal. And as the team leader, your job will be to keep them motivated with challenging learning experiences enjoyable working conditions.
Focus on Building Relationships
Locate the people within the company who are most likely to influence your future success, and get to really know those people. Open deep discussions and get to really understand their needs and how you can help them reach their goals. You need to touch base frequently with these people, and constantly look for ways that IT could make life better for them.
Learn About The Company’s Goals And Objectives
In order to be useful to the organization, you need a deep understanding of how it operates. This means reading every report you can find, and gaining a deep understanding how the company makes its money stays ahead of competitors. And most importantly, you need to know how the organization wants to be positioned in the future, and how they want to be viewed by customers.
It also helps to look at the organization from other points of view. Try to look at the organization from the perspective of existing customers, shareholders, executives and front-line employees.
A top-down holistic perspective will empower you to make smarter decisions which will increase revenues, improve competitiveness, reduce costs and improve customer service.
Reward Creativity And Initiative Within IT
Whenever possible, try to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy. Try to craft an environment where experimentation and taking initiative are encouraged. Create an environment where mistakes made with good judgement and educated risks are seen as learning experiences. A limited tolerance for risks and mistakes can stimulate growth and flexibility within the IT role of the organization.
Take A Proactive Approach To Dealing With Change
Everything in nature is either growing or dying. Nothing stands still.
Great IT managers understand that the world around us will continue to change, even if we are reluctant to move. And too often, out of fear, we postpone major change until it’s too late. You must be open to change, and constantly looking into the future for opportunities to leverage emerging technologies to your advantage.
Change will happen whether you’re ready or not. So you might as well be proactive in embracing it and jumping on new opportunities. The past is gone and irrelevant. You can only look to the future.
Keep Up To Date With The Latest Developments In Your Industry
Especially in IT, this should go without saying. Never stop learning.
Be A Good Leader And Encourage Teamwork
In order to foster a bonding team atmosphere, it’s important that you set the example by acting as team member yourself. Frequently meet with all members of your IT team, and get to know their names.
Keep open dialogue and help other members overcome challenges and become more productive, while also empowering them to experiment, learn, and find solutions on their own. Be a good listener, and authentic in your caring and attention.
Remain visible, accessible & responsive, and keep reinforcing the values and attitudes that you wish to foster.
Remember That The Value You Provide Is Primarily Decided By The Perception Of Others
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how well you’ve done your job. What matters most is how your efforts are perceived by key decision makers within the organization. That’s why it’s critical that you foster and nurture relationships with key people throughout the organization.
Make sure that your IT projects are lined up with their priorities, and make sure that they are aware of the value that IT is contributing to their efforts.
Quantify And Measure The Quality Of Your Efforts
When working in a leadership position, mathematical literacy is an absolute must.
You need to justify budgeting and spending decisions with hard numbers which quantify their impact on the organization. At the drop of a hat, you have data on-hand to answer questions such as:
- What portion of revenue is being attributed to IT budget?
- How much has productivity improved as a direct result of the new ERP upgrade?
- How will you measure and track the profitability impact of your IT efforts in the coming year?
You also need to quantify the ROI and TCO of IT projects. This is essential in making build-or-buy decisions. And benchmarking is critical for highlighting areas in need of attention, and establishing hard monetary figures that justify these changes.