CIOs Want To Know: How Can I Get My Best Workers To Stay?

In order to keep your best workers, you need to know what they are thinking
In order to keep your best workers, you need to know what they are thinking
Image Credit: Nicolas Raymond

If you are doing what a CIO is supposed to do, then you’ve spent time and energy assembling the best IT department that you possibly can. You’ve weeded out the non-performers, replaced them will skilled IT professionals, and now you feel as though your IT department is ready to take on the world! However, there is just one fly in your ointment – how are you going to take on the world if your best workers leave your IT department?

Discovering How IT Workers Feel

If you want to be able to hang on to the workers that you have, then you are going to have to find a way to understand how they currently feel about their jobs. The good news is that you are not alone in wanting to find a way to do this: IBM, Twitter, and a host of other companies are all interested in getting the same answers that you are looking for. This has been something that the person with the CIO job has wanted to understand for a very long time. What’s changed is that it may now be possible to do thanks to the arrival of big data.

The power phrase that all of these companies are using when they talk about trying to gain a better understanding of what their employees are thinking is called “sentiment analysis”. The hope is that by using this type of software, CIOs can discover how their employees feel about such things a diversity programs and their prospects of being promoted. The software works by processing a large amount of data. This data is collected from such varied places as internal comments on blog posts and the responses that employees give to open-ended questions on those employee surveys that we all fill out all of the time.

The purpose of this software is to allow CIOs to sort through the 100s or 1000s of pieces of information that together can give them an impression of what their employees are thinking. What CIOs would like to learn from all of this is where they can make the changes that will keep their staff motivated and contribute to them staying on board.

Using The Knowledge That You’ve Gained

One of the biggest problems that the person in the CIO position has faced in the past has not been the lack of data. We’ve always had a lot of that. If your company conducts an annual survey of its employees, then you may find yourself awash in answers to questions that reveal how your employees feel about the company. This is clearly a case of having a lot of data and very little knowledge. The new sentiment analysis software can help out here. What the software can do is process your open-ended survey questions and blog postings in order to analyze the language that your workers use. The goal is to analyze their underlying emotions including disappointment, frustration, or even anger.

There is a major issue that CIOs have to deal with regarding employee privacy. The general thinking is that these new types of software tools can be applied to open forums where employees should have no expectations of privacy such as company blogs. The feedback that has been provided to a company survey is another area where the information provided is fair game for additional analysis. What is currently considered to be off limits is company email. Yes, great things could probably be learned, but it could be tied to a specific employee and they never counted on having their email analyzed.

One of the richest sources of information for sentiment analysis software are social media outlets. It’s important that the information collected from these sources be made anonymous before being processed. It turns out that computers have a very difficult time detecting sarcasm and humor. This means that a human being will still be required to interpret the results of the data analysis. CIOs need to remember that understanding what their employees are thinking is really only a first step. Once you know the answer to this question, you are going to have to take action.

What All Of This Means For You

Staffing an IT department can be a full time job because of the importance of information technology. It turns out that once you’ve accomplished this task, you are now faced with the next step in the process: finding ways to keep your staff from leaving. This has been a challenge for CIOs for quite some time; however, now with the arrival of big data and sentiment analysis software we can now get the answers we’re looking for.

The way that these systems work is to collect a great deal of data from publicly available sources within the company. These can include company blogs and responses to annual company employee surveys. The software has the ability to analyze the words that have been used and determine the emotions that the employees are feeling. CIOs need to keep in mind that detecting what their employee’s mood is is just the first step, then they need to take action.

New tools are now available that can give you a greater insight into what the members of your IT department are currently thinking. This is critical information for a CIO to have. Take the time to understand what the mood of your department is and then use it to make your department even better than it is today!

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

Question For You: If your analysis of your IT department’s mood reveals that many people are thinking about leaving, what action should you do?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m hoping that the company that you work at is currently doing well. Now let’s talk about the future. None of us know what’s coming our way down the road and that can be just a bit scary. For firms that may not be in the high-tech sector, they understand the importance of information technology and they realize that change can happen almost overnight (think of the arrival of Uber) and they don’t want to get caught flat footed. What to do? One thing that a lot of CIOs at these firms are doing is setting up “innovation labs” in order to attract the best young talent and get to work on the problems that they are going to need to solve sooner rather than later.