How Are CIOs Failing Their Business Users?

CIOs are forgetting about their employee experience
CIOs are forgetting about their employee experience
Image Credit: Sjoerd Wijn

Right now every CIO seems to be talking about the customer experience (CX). What CIOs have been told is that if you don’t get customer experience right, you may leave yourself vulnerable to competitors who do. However, CIOs who focus only or mostly on customers are forgetting something just as important: the employee experience (EX) . The basic formula is: You can’t have customers that are happier than your employees no matter how well you understand the importance of information technology. Here’s how CIOs can fall short of providing employee-facing technology that helps rather than hurts productivity, morale and the bottom line.

Take Time To Listen To Employee Needs

The person with the CIO job needs to understand that even without impediments that hold workers back, any technology that streamlines or simplifies any part of a user’s job will make a positive impact. Sometimes you won’t know what will make that kind of difference unless you ask. A good idea is to nominate a beta testing group of about eight users in different locations to try technology tools. Make sure to include people who weren’t early adopters.

Make Onboarding As Smooth As Possible

As the CIO who is ultimately responsible for making sure that your IT department is fully staffed, you are aware that in this tight labor market, companies put a lot of time, effort, and resources into recruiting and hiring the talent they need. It turns out that, technology can undermine those efforts. What the person in the CIO position is discovering is that the selection and onboarding processes often can fall apart, from losing track of new job candidates to not having the requisite paperwork to not getting back fast enough to high-potential candidates. Sadly, this list goes on and on.

CIOs need to find ways to streamline the recruiting and onboarding process. When you evaluate a candidate, all their information should come in from the job search site. If you make a job offer and they accept, they should be able to digitally sign and when they come into the office on the first day, don’t burden them with paperwork. This allows HR to focus on employee experience and truly work on the onboarding process.

Don’t Require A Steep Learning Curve

CIOs are the ones who are responsible for rolling new technology out to the company. It turns out that most users have little patience with needing a half-day training session before they can use everyday technology. What CIOs are discovering is that IT tools need to be totally intuitive, and that things like user’s manuals and certifications may be a thing of the past.

Requiring employees to sit through training sessions means that they expect to emerge with powerful new capabilities. The training should be all about letting users see the breadth of the tools. If you can choose technology tools with little or no learning curve then your organization is much less likely to get locked in to a specific piece of software or hardware just because employees know how to use it.

CIOs Need To Provide A Consumer-Level Experience

A key problem that CIOs are dealing with is that too many companies have too many tools that fall toward the high end of being difficult to use. Most employees have technology deep in their lives. Their cars are roving computers. They’ve had experiences like buying a ticket from a kiosk at a subway station or buying an airline ticket online. They will be comparing these with filing a request for paid time off, or submitting an expense report at their jobs.

CIOs need to realize that employees will be making that comparison every time they use a system at work. And users don’t just want their technology to be intuitive. They want it to be informal, pleasing, and perhaps a little bit fun.

CIOs Need To Upgrade To A Digital Workplace

CIOs need to realize that improving EX can make such a powerful difference. The quality of the technology tools given to employees to do their jobs sends a message about how important they are to the organization. How do CIOs want employees to feel about the organization? Are the tools mirroring that? The company that the CIO is trying to create is a high-paced company and you will be asking a lot of your people. If your technology doesn’t align with that, then you’re doing something wrong.

What All Of This Means For You

It can be all too easy for a CIO to get caught up in the current push to understand the customer experience. Although this is important, it turns out that there is something that is even more important: the employee experience. If we fall short of providing our employees with what they need to do their job, then we’ll never be able to meet the needs of our customers.

The first step in learning what experiences your workers are having is taking the time to listen to them. You can create a sample group and have them beta test new technologies. When people join the company, they get their first impression of the company’s IT operations. Make the onboarding process as smooth as possible and reduce the amount of data entry new hires have to do. New technology should make performing jobs simple to do, make sure that new technology does not come with a steep learning curve. The IT products that we provide our employees with have to be as simple to use as the ones that they use in their personal life are. Finally, CIOs need to keep the workplace up to date – don’t let your technology fall behind!

Before CIOs can worry about their company’s end customers, they first have to make sure that the IT department is meeting the needs of their employees. Listening to your employees and providing them with the IT tools that they can use to perform their jobs better is what it’s going to take to make your company successful. CIOs need to make the outside of the company more successful by first taking care of the inside of the company.

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

Question For You: What should a CIO do if an IT tool turns out to be too difficult to use?

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