How Should A CIO Deal With An Employee Mutiny?

by drjim on July 29, 2015

CIOs need to be aware that a mutiny may be happening right now!

CIOs need to be aware that a mutiny may be happening right now!
Image Credit: HoJo Anaheim

The CIO runs the show when it comes to all things having to do with IT because of importance of information technology, right? Well, it turns out that this is not always the case. Even as you are reading this, in your IT department a mutiny may be brewing. What has caused this to happen and what should you be doing to prepare for it?

The Reason For The Mutiny

The workers in IT departments are rising up because they’ve had enough of your company’s equipment and systems. They spend their personal time living in a world that is filled with the latest hand held devices and the Internet applications that they interact with have been optimized to meet their needs. As you can well imagine, this all changes when they come to work.

While at work, your workers are handed out-of-date laptops, cell phones and tablets to use. BlackBerry anyone? Instead, they would prefer to use their latest and greatest Apple and Samsung products. Likewise, they don’t want to have to learn to use the company’s cumbersome ERP or CRM software packages. Much better, easier to use, applications are available to use on the web and so why should your workers bother with your old systems?

When the interface to the corporate software is hard to use, you are going to find that your younger workers are the ones who are leading the charge. Surveys that have been taken have revealed that instead of being tied to the company’s legacy IT equipment and applications, your younger employees will instead find alternatives. These may include both spreadsheets (which are programmable) and cloud based applications to accomplish their jobs.

What CIOs Need To Do To Deal With The Mutiny

As the person with the CIO job, it’s going to be your job to get to the bottom of what’s going on here. One of the key things that you need to realize is that your audience, the employees in your IT department, spend their lives interacting with a lot of different software applications. These include applications like Google, Facebook, Orbitz, and SnapChat. These applications have been designed to “just work”.

When these same employees come to work, they then try to interact with your enterprise software. This software is not nearly as intuitive. It can be difficult to understand and there is often a long period of training that is required before you can do anything useful with it. Since you are in the CIO position, you need to understand this because you may have difficulty filling positions because workers won’t want to take the position because of the software requirements that comes with it.

As the CIO, you are going to have to move rapidly to make some changes. You are going to have to discover ways to transform the company’s most important enterprise software systems and make them more accessible to your users. This is going to be a critical task because if the company no longer needs the support of the IT department, then you’ll start to see both your budget and your responsibilities shrink.

What All Of This Means For You

Just when you thought that you had everything under control, along comes a mutiny from the workers within your own IT department. These folks have become used to using the latest and greatest devices and applications. They are no longer going to put up with having to use old, outdated, or hard to use hardware or applications while they are at work.

Your workers have become used to interacting with applications that have been tailored to meet their every need. When they come to work and are faced with ERP and CRM applications that can be difficult to use and difficult to understand, they simply give up and go around them. They find other applications, including spreadsheets, and use them to accomplish their jobs. As the CIO you need to identify this problem and come up with ways to fix it.

The good news is that the same workers who are in the process of finding work-arounds for your major systems are the same ones who can help you to find solutions to this problem. Since they know why they are avoiding using your products, they are the ones who are in the best position to help you find ways to get them to start to use it. Take the time to talk with your teams and you just may find a way to avoid having a mutiny on your hands!

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

Question For You: What’s the best way for a CIO to detect if he or she is starting to have a mutiny on their hands?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you’ve taken the time to read any of the IT trade rags in the past year or so, you’ve seen a story that tells you how wonderful “the cloud” is and how it has become a key part of the importance of information technology. In fact, if you’ve read enough of these articles, you may be thinking that you are a bit behind the times – your company should be moving more of its applications into the cloud faster. However, it turns out that a number of companies are not making this move. Their reasons may interest you…

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