A code of ethics has to be worth more than the paper that it is written on

A code of ethics has to be worth more than the paper that it is written on
Image Credit: Tom Lianza

As the person with the CIO job, it turns out that you have a daily job in which you are the person who is responsible for keeping control over your company’s data. Not only do you have to make good decisions about who can get access to the company’s data, but you also have to take the time to educate the rest of the company on how to behave ethically when it comes to dealing with company data.

It’s All About Information Flow

As CIOs, I’m hoping that we already realize that our company’s customer data is perhaps some of the most valuable data that the company has. What this means is that as the person in the CIO position, it is our job to make sure that this data is protected at all times. Not only do we have to set the rules for guarding this data, we also have a responsibility to make sure that the company’s employees understand both the rules and how to apply them. This can often create challenges when it comes to dealing with the company’s marketing department!

As the CIO you are responsible for how data flows within the company. This means that you are going to have to go about setting up systems that will allow data to flow from the low levels where it enters the company all the way up to the top where the senior management will make use of this data. You need to take a look at your internal systems and decide if you have a way to make sure that information gets into the right hands. Once the information is there, do you have systems in place that will ensure that follow up happens?

Not all data is good data. In fact, sometimes data is just plain downright bad data. Depending on how the CIO has got things set up within the company, employees may or may not be willing to communicate bad data up to their management. The CIO has to create a work environment where employees feel comfortable reporting accurate and complete information to their bosses. What you don’t want your employees doing is coloring information in order to provide their bosses with the inaccurate information that they think that they want to hear.

Data Has To Be Protected

CIOs realize that all data is not created the same. Data has a natural life cycle: it is created, it is used, and then potentially it will be disposed of. What this means for you is that you are going to have to create clear rules for the company’s employees so that they know what to do with it at all stages of its life cycle. You won’t be able to provide hands-on monitoring of every employee, so you need to know that they are doing the right things.

A big part of protecting a company’s data has to do with making sure that only the people who are supposed to be able to access data are able to get their hands on it. Who gets access to what will always be something that can cause conflict. Various parts of the company will be asking for more access to private data for a wide variety of reasons. As the CIO you are going to have to be willing to step in and make the hard decisions about who can access what. Please note that this means that you will end up not being everyone’s friend.

Since there is only one of you and there are a lot of other employees in the company, you are going to need to find ways to spread the responsibility for managing the company data out over other people. What you are going to want to do is to reward responsibility with trust. You are going to want to give the company’s managers decision making responsibilities about who they want to allow to have access to their data. If you do this right, then within the company people will have greater access to information, but only the people who really need to have access to it.

What All Of This Means For You

Within any company, the most important asset the company has is the data that it has collected about its customers and its employees. As the company’s CIO, it’s going to be your job to make sure that you control who gets access to that data. This is yet another one of your decisions that has to do with the importance of information technology.

Not only are we responsible for establishing the rules that govern who can access what data, but we are also responsible for making sure that everyone in the company knows what the rules regarding this data are. Data is only useful if it gets to where it can be used. This means that you are going to have to create paths for accurate information to flow from the bottom of the company to the top. This flow needs to happen even if you are asking employees to pass on information that is not positive information. The data that you are responsible for protecting has a natural life cycle and you need to make sure that employees know how to protect it at each stage of its life. To keep data secure you’ll need to take steps to ensure that only the people who should be accessing the data can get their hands on it. This is a big job and so you are going to have to enlist the help of your management team to make it happen.

Data is what allows our company to keep moving forward and competing in its markets. As the CIO it is our responsibility to create a code of ethics that relates to this data and to ensure that all employees both know and understand it. If we take the time to accomplish this, then we’ll be able to sleep at night knowing that the company’s data is secure.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If you discover that an employee has been sharing data that they should not be sharing, what steps do you think that the CIO should take?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that we all know who General Electic (GE) is. The company has been around for 124 years and employees over 315,000 people. The company has made everything from toasters to railway locomotives to aircraft engines to nuclear power plants. They truly understand the importance of information technology. As impressive as all of that is, it may start to pale in comparison to what the company is planning on doing now: completely changing how they evaluate their employees. As the person with the CIO job at your company, perhaps you should sit up and take notice of what they are planning on doing…

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CIOs have a responsibility to teach their staff how to manage millennials

CIOs have a responsibility to teach their staff how to manage millennials
Image Credit: Scott Lewis

As the person with the CIO job it is your responsibility to make sure that your direct reports are doing a good job of managing their staff. After all, collectively these are the people who make up your IT department and your ability to deliver on the importance of information technology depends on their abilities. If you have a lot of turn-over in your IT department, then something is not right. You’re going to have to take a careful look at how your staff is managing their millennials.

What Do These Kids Want?

Right now in the IT department there appears to be a disconnect between the management team and the workers. More often than not, the managers are older and are part of either the Boomer generation or the so-called “Gen X”. The younger people in your department who are actually doing the work are more often than not part of the millennial generation that was born in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The reason that this disconnect has happened is that it’s all too easy for today’s managers to not fully understand what the millennials are looking to get out of a job. We tend to think that millennials are looking for what everyone has always been looking for in a job: a paycheck and some form of job security. However, in the case of millennials it turns out that they are desperately looking for the work that they do to be meaningful. They need to understand what its impact is going to be. Millennials also need a great deal of feedback. A once-a-year annual review is not going to cut it for this crowd. Finally, they hate voicemail. Don’t use it to connect with them!

One of the big problems that a lot of people in the CIO position are having is that they are seeing a great deal of turnover in their IT department staff. The management team in your IT department needs to take the time to understand the millennials that they are managing. You don’t want them to make the mistake of resisting or ignoring their influence. As the CIO you need to find a way to fully engage your workers in what the company is trying to accomplish. This means that you are going to have to identify a so-called “noble purpose” and then communicate it to everyone.

What Is The Best Way To Manage Millennals?

All too often when people in an IT department want to get people to support their program or their plan, they’ll show up with an armful of numbers and then proceed to walk everyone through them. This approach does not work with millennials who can quickly become bored. A much better approach with this group is to use stories. Stories about how what the millennials are working have affected other people’s lives are the best ones to tell. This is a powerful method to communicate to your millennials that the work that they are doing really matters.

Another issue that is very important to millennials is the ability to control their working hours. The standard 9 to 5 seems to be too restrictive to them. Smart CIOs realize this and they search for ways to provide millennials with the ability to have more control over their work schedules. Allowing them to set flexible schedules and do things like take Friday afternoons off can help to stem the turnover that many IT departments are seeing in their millennials.

Millennials also want to know who they are working for. Having the “head guy” (or gal) locked up in some corner office somewhere does not allow them to connect with the company that they are working for. Instead, senior IT management (this includes you CIO) needs to be more visible. This interaction between management and staff can also be improved by changing how company status update meetings are held. Instead of dry presentations, include contests, give-aways, and employee recognitions.

What All Of This Means For You

As your company’s CIO, it’s your responsibility to create and maintain a functional IT department. If you are experiencing excessive turn-over in your youngest workers, you will be struggling to accomplish the department’s projects and commitments. The staff that you have working for you is responsible for creating a work environment that the millennials want to be a part of. How to do that is the real question.

Millennials are IT workers who were born in the 1980s and the 1990s. They are looking to get different things out of their careers than those who came before them. What this means is that they want to make sure that the work that they are doing is meaningful. You need to create a “noble purpose” that your millennials can rally behind. Millennials respond much better to stories than to number. Allowing them to have control over their working hours can be a big help. The IT senior management needs to make sure that they are viable so that the millennials feel as though they know who they are working for.

As the CIO, you’d like to hire the right people for your department and then move on to solving other problems. However, if you have excessive turnover in your Millennials then you are going to spending way too much time working with your team to fill those empty positions. You need to work with your staff to get them to understand the right ways to manage their millennial workers. Take the time to understand what millennials are looking for from your IT department and you’ll discover that they will stick around longer.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to find out what the millennials in your IT department are currently thinking?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So there’s no question that this whole social networking thing has become very, very popular. No matter if we’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, or any one of the other social networking sites that are out there, the rapid growth and constant usage of social networking has shown us the importance of information technology and made it a part of our everyday lives. However, as the person with the CIO job you need to be asking yourself a very important question: should you be taking steps to introduce social networking into the workplace?

As the person with the CIO job, it turns out that you have a daily job in which you are the person who is responsible for keeping control over your company’s data. Not only do you have to make good decisions about who can get access to the company’s data, but you also have to take the time to educate the rest of the company on how to behave ethically when it comes to dealing with company data.

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