CIOs Need To Understand The Power Of A Chat

Having an "anything goes" conversation can keep things moving
Having an “anything goes” conversation can keep things moving
Image Credit: cristian

What all CIOs are looking for is magic. Not a lot of it, just enough that they can keep things flowing in the right direction in their department. Sadly, most of us don’t know where to find the magic that we are looking for. However, it turns out that it may have been hiding under our noses all along. The power of conversation, not a big formal meeting, but rather a chat just might be the thing that CIOs need to provide their workers with the understanding of what is going on and the motivation to keep pushing forward.

Being A Successful CIO IS All About Communication

So if you want to be a better CIO, what do you need to do? One suggestion is to start to believe in the magic of open discussions. If you can do this, then you can start to regularly hold CIO chats with your staff – free-form, large-group conversations open to anyone and everyone in the company – to facilitate communication and give employees greater clarity on IT department strategy. You can build on this by holding frequent office hours, doled out in 10-minute increments, so that anyone on your team can get a one-on-one meeting with the CIO to chew over any work topic.

What the person with the CIO job needs to realize is that all of this communicating leads to better decisions. If you decide that having CIO chats with your team is a good idea, then you’re going to have to figure out how you want to go about doing this. First off, anyone can sign up to attend. During the chat you should plan on spending an hour in the meeting. People should be able to ask you anything. What you are trying to create is a group discussion. And it helps to have people ask strategic questions like why are we doing this initiative? Or perhaps why did we stop doing this? CIOs will find that it’s a way to have unplugged, uncensored discussions on sometimes difficult subjects. The benefit for the CIO (and the company) is that it does create a lot of goodwill.

These types of chat meetings can be very important. As a CIO you need to understand that you have employees who are living, breathing the company 24 hours a day, seven days a week and your strategy may not be clear to them. If you can understand this, then it will help you to make your strategy more clear the next time that you are presenting it at an internal strategy session. The chat meeting is only part of how you can improve your communications, office hours are the other way. You need to realize that the office hours are totally different. This type of meeting will be just for the IT team. Sometimes it’s hard for a team member to ask a question in front of a couple hundred people. So as the person with the CIO job you can do the 10-minute slots, and do six back to back. This makes it so much easier, especially for junior team members, to ask a question.

Use Communication To Get The Most Out Of Your Team

By taking the time to have these types of discussions with your team, you will allow yourself to be exposed to new ideas that you may not have had by yourself. A good example of this would be if someone came to you and said that they were focused on career development and the only feedback they had received was that they needed more practice in terms of presenting. Getting input like this would allow you to potentially create an internal IT speaker series, where you could encourage more junior team members to present on a topic that’s interesting to them, or something they’re working on.

What you may learn is that people are having one-on-one meetings with their managers, but the feeling for the more junior members is that they are dominated by updates, as opposed to career development discussions. With this kind of knowledge, you can try to implement new approaches where time is set aside for feedback. The best kind of feedback is two-way because it’s important for managers to hear feedback as well. What you need to realize as CIO is that ultimately there are a lot of other jobs right now in tech that people can get. You will win when you really invest in talent and key people. Retention has to be important to you.

As with all new ideas, there is a downside to setting these types of meetings up. Let’s face it, meetings can be shorter if you just said things should be this way, period. However, you are not going to want to rush into a decision. Instead, you want to have thoughtful debates. When people on your team disagree, you generally get a better outcome. Your goal is to have really rich discussions. Understand that that means that sometimes you will argue. As CIO, one of your biggest challenges will be to make sure decisions are made quickly enough, while considering everyone’s viewpoint. You need to agree that having that debate and knowing that you have to get to an answer today is important, but let’s take the time to really think this through. On important decisions, it’s worth taking the extra half-hour to make sure you have everyone’s viewpoint.

What All Of This Means For You

CIO are responsible for making sure that the rest of the company is aware of the importance of information technology. In order to do that, we need the support of our entire IT department. To make this happen, we need to ensure that we’ve set up good lines of communication between ourselves and the rest of our department. Exactly how to go about doing this is one of the biggest challenges that CIOs are facing today. It turns out that the solution to this problem is actually fairly simple: we just have to talk with our teams more often.

One way to boost the level of communication within your IT department is to start to hold “CIO chats”. These are open meetings where anyone can attend and ask any question that they want to. Additionally, you could start to hold “office hours” for the members of the IT team who wanted to drop by and talk with you for 10 minutes. Having meetings like this can allow you to uncover issues within the IT department such as career development challenges. Having meetings like this can expose you to a number of new ideas. We all have to realize that the members of our department could always leave and get another job. Establishing open communication lines is one way to ensure that they stay.

A CIO is evaluated by what the IT department is able to accomplish. What this means for us is that we need to spend our time looking for ways to enable our team to accomplish more. A key component in making this happen is establishing good communication between you and the rest of your team. This is something that can be done, we just need to be willing to take the time to make it happen. With the right investment of time and effort, you can ensure that the lines of communication in your IT department are strong and that everyone knows what they need to do and why.

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

Question For You: How often do you think that a CIO should hold a chat session?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job, you need to understand the impact that the importance of information technology will have on your company. One of the most important of these new technologies will be artificial intelligence (AI). The number of different things that can be done with AI is amazing. One area that has not been getting a great deal of attention, but which should, is what happens when an AI enabled device listens to you. As humans, we can tell a lot about someone just by their voice. It turns out that so can an AI enabled device.