Old management techniques don't work with new employees

Old management techniques don’t work with new employees
Image Credit: Kevin O’Mara

As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to put in place systems that will allow the company to use the importance of information technology to get the most out of each and every IT employee. This sounds like a fairly classical management responsibility. However, in a recent poll by the research firm Gallup they have found that the old management techniques that are being used in a lot of IT departments just aren’t working with today’s millennial workers. What’s a CIO to do?

Who Makes Up Your Workforce?

So let’s just call this like it is: the majority of American workers are either disengaged or simply indifferent. The reason that CIOs should care about this situation is because it comes with a cost. The economic output per worker peaked in the 1950’s and 1960’s and has been on a downturn ever since. Even though your workers now have computers, cell phones, and the internet, they are less productive than they used to be. The good news is that roughly 30% of your workforce is what poll calls “engaged”. These workers love their jobs and they make the IT department better each and every day.

The bad news for CIOs is that in their IT departments there is another type of worker. This worker is “actively disengaged”. These workers make up roughly 16% of any IT department. This group of employees are miserable in the workplace, don’t like their jobs, and because of all of this end up destroying what their colleagues who really like their jobs do. If you take a look at the entire U.S. workforce, it is estimated that actively disengaged workers are costing business between $483B to $605B.

The really engaged and actively disengaged groups together don’t account for everyone who works for a CIO. There’s another group. The remaining 51% of your workforce are the employees who are simply not engaged one way or another. These are the workers who just show up every day and are “just there”. What every CIO would like to be able to do would be to get these employees more engaged. If we could find a way to go about doing this, then we would have found a way to solve the problem of declining productivity.

What Do CIOs Need To Do In Order To Engage Their Workers?

Given that a CIO has so many workers in the IT department who are disengaged, what are we to do? The suggestion is that we first start by very clearly defining and communicating a vision for the IT department. Once we’ve done this, we then need to find ways to rally our employees around the vision that we have for the IT department. Right now most employees have very little belief in their company’s leadership and so by doing this you can start to generate some of that needed belief.

As an effective CIO you are going to need to fix what’s wrong in your IT department. You are going to have to make sure that you communicate well with your team. You’ll have to find the time to make sure that you are communicating often with your team. To make sure that everyone is working towards the same goal, you are going to have to share the company’s mission with everyone in the IT department. This all goes along with the other things that you need to be doing: training and developing your workers all the while offering feedback and coaching.

What do your workers want in order to become engaged? The answer is that they want a job that feels meaningful. They want to be able to see how their role contributes to the success of their team, the department, and the company. This means that as the person in the CIO position, you need to make sure that employee goals are clear. You will also have to make sure that the resources that employees need in order to reach their goals are available. Combine this with a flexible workplace and you will have found a way to get more of your employees engaged.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs are currently facing a major challenge in their IT departments. The management techniques that many of us are used to using are no longer working. A great number of our employees are disengaged. What are we going to have to do in order to solve this problem?

The first thing that we need to realize is that not all workers are the same. 30% of our department is made up of people who love their job. Unfortunately, there is also 16% of our department that consists of people who are actively disengaged. The remaining 51% are people who are just showing up each and every day. As CIOs we need to take the time to clearly communicate our vision for the IT department to our employees. We have to find the time talk with every one often in order to ensure that they are all working towards the same goal. Your workers want their job to be meaningful. This means that you need to make sure that everyone’s employee goals are clear.

Having such a large part of any workforce not feeling like they are engaged is never a good thing. However, as CIOs now that we realize that this is an issue, we can take steps to try to get some of those workers who are not engaged and make them engaged. If we can find a way to accomplish this, then we will have boosted the productivity of our IT department!

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

Question For You: What do you think that a CIO should do about the employees who stubbornly remain actively disengaged?

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

Just in case you have somehow not gotten the message, if you want to build the best IT department that will be able to share the importance of information technology with the rest of the company, you are going to want to make it as diverse as you possibly can. Having all of those people with different backgrounds ensures you that you’ll get the different opinions and solutions that a modern IT department needs in order to be successful. However, there’s a problem here. The hiring process that your IT department uses is broken – it has bias built into it and you’ll never get the diverse employees that you so desperately need. What’s a CIO to do?

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Smartphones have matured and CIOs can learn from this

Smartphones have matured and CIOs can learn from this
Image Credit:
Nokia Connect

CIOs exist in order to help their companies do more things and do them faster. The person in the CIO position has the responsibility of marshaling all of the company’s IT talent and using the importance of information technology to work on projects that are going to help the company to do a better job of competing. However, there’s a very interesting question that comes up when it turns out that this simply is not going to be enough. What should the person with the CIO job do then?

The Problem With Smartphones

A great example of what I’m talking about has been happening in the market for smartphones. Although it still seems like it was just yesterday, it turns out that it was roughly about ten years ago that Apple introduced the first iPhone. This single event served to create the smartphone market. After the iPhone came out, sales of smartphones soared for years while everyone got one. In fact, in 2010 sales grew by 76%. However, by 2015 sales growth had slowed to just 10% and in 2016 it was 0.6%. What’s the problem here? Everyone already has a smartphone!

There are other factors at play in the slowing of the smartphone market that CIOs have no control over. In 2016, 1.45 billion smartphones were sold worldwide. What this means is that the market is saturated – everyone who wants a smartphone now has one. At the same time, at least in the U.S., wireless providers have now moved away from offering phone subsidies to their customers who sign a long-term contract. Customers are now required to pay full price for the phones that they want. These prices cans start at US$649 for a new iPhone 7. The result of this change is that consumers are putting off upgrading their phones. Now they wait 31.2 months before buying a new phone when in the past they’d buy a phone every 24 months.

Another problem that CIOs of phone manufactures are facing is that there are few compelling reasons for someone to go out and buy a new phone. There are a few new features that are attractive such a dual cameras and waterproof phones. However, these by themselves are not enough to motivate people to spend the money needed to upgrade their phones. Fancy new features like a foldable display or augmented reality are still years away.

The Next Step In Smartphones

All of this leads us to where CIOs in the smartphone industry now find themselves. The growth of the market for smartphone has stalled because everyone already has a smartphone and there are no new hardware features that are compelling everyone to go out and get a new phone. Try as you’d like, as a CIO there is very little that we can do in a situation like this to help our company out.

In the world of smartphones, there may be a silver lining that CIOs can use to assist their companies. Advances in hardware have slowed to an incremental rate; however, the development of smartphone software and services is one area that is rapidly growing. This area of innovation is being driven by advances in artificial intelligence. The addition of features driven by new software is helping to make smartphones a critical tool that are being used by everyone.

A lot of the changes in smartphone software are being driven by how computers are now able to process very large amounts of data using artificial intelligence techniques. The result of all of this is that smartphones have become better at things like speech recognition and vision. Almost all smartphones now come with some sort of virtual assistant (Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant). We are also now seeing the growth in easy-to-use devices that combine applications with devices and may make use of a smartphone to deliver a handy feature.

What All Of This Means For You

The role of a CIO in any company is to provide ways for the company to accomplish more. The CIO has the task of using the IT department to find ways for the company to move quicker and outpace its competition. However, in the smartphone industry, this has become hard to do.

CIOs in the smartphone industry have run into a significant problem. Smartphones have become so popular over the past 10 years that virtually everyone already has one now. What this means is that the growth in sales of smartphones has started to significantly slow. With no new revolutionary hardware features on the horizon, this trend is anticipated to continue for some time. The one bright spot in all of this is that the software that drives smartphones continues to evolve and change at a rapid rate. Software is allowing smartphones to do things that they’ve never been able to do before. Recent advances have added virtual assistants to smartphones and allowed them to work with other devices.

Even in the smartphone market, CIOs still have an opportunity to play a critical role. As the growth in hardware sales starts to slow, the rapid changes in software require the steady hand of the CIO to keep things moving forward. There will eventually be changes in hardware that cause people to want to get a new smartphone; however, until then it’s going to be up to CIOs to deliver the software features that will cause people to decide that they need to upgrade their smartphone!

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

Question For You: Do you think that smartphone virtual assistants could be worked into other devices to make smartphones even more valuable?

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

As the person with the CIO job, it’s your responsibility to put in place systems that will allow the company to use the importance of information technology to get the most out of each and every IT employee. This sounds like a fairly classical management responsibility. However, in a recent poll by the research firm Gallup they have found that the old management techniques that are being used in a lot of IT departments just aren’t working with today’s millennial workers. What’s a CIO to do?

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