How CIOs Can Get Their Department To Change When They Don’t Want To

by drjim on November 17, 2010

Change Happens & We Need To Find Ways To Deal With It…

Change Happens & We Need To Find Ways To Deal With It…

When you become CIO, one of your main jobs will be to lead the IT department though changes. However, here is where you may run into a problem. Considering how many layoffs, cut backs, and canceled projects most IT departments have had, the last thing that your IT staff really wants is more change. What’s a CIO to do?

First Things First

If you want to have any hope of being able to convince your IT department to rally behind a significant change, then you’re going to have to do some work. The first thing that you are going to have to deal with has to do with what has gone on in the past.

In order to make things happen now, you’re going to have to find ways to help your staff let go of the past and find ways to move forward. You want them to be able to move forward as quickly as possible. Note that you need them to do both of these on two different levels: an emotional level as well as a workplace level.

How To Let Go Of The Past

If you want to have any hope of helping your staff to let go of the past, then you are going to have to let them get all of those feelings that they have inside out. Sorry technology lover – this is messy, human relations sort of stuff.

The key word here is “empathy”. Note that I didn’t say “sympathy”. The difference is a bit subtle, but it’s critical. A CIO who is sympathetic feels bad because you are felling bad. A CIO who is empathetic feels sad because of the thing that is making you feel sad. This latter emotion is a much, much more powerful way to connect with your staff.

What you are going to have to do is to acknowledge the feelings that the people in your department are having. Once you’ve done that, then you can start to use this understanding to go about building a workplace environment based on cooperation and trust.

Next Things Next

Once you’ve got the IT team to let go of the past, it’s time for the next step. This is where you get them to buy-in and support the new change that you are trying to implement.

In order to get everyone to commit to what needs to be done, you are going to have to be straight with them. This is not the time to be sugar-coating what you are telling your staff. If it’s going to be hard to implement the change that you want to do, now is the time to tell everyone that.

Practical Ways To Get Everyone Onboard

One of the key ways to get support from the IT department is to make sure that as the CIO you are providing a clear vision of where you want to go. This vision has to have enough detail associated with it so that your department can fully understand where you want to go and how you plan on getting there.

Additionally, CIOs can’t make their team implement a change. Rather you are going to have to allow them to do it themselves. To make this easier for them to do, a good idea is to let the team create their own procedures for rolling out the needed changes.

What All Of This Means For You

Change is never easy. For some reason, in the world of IT change is not only hard to do, but due to past failures most of a department’s IT staff often resists any attempt to implement a change.

CIOs need to realize that they need to take an active role in implementing IT changes. They need to work with the IT department and help them to let go of the past and all of the baggage that goes with it. Next, they need to discover how to get the team to buy-in and support the new change.

Implementing IT changes is something that will happen multiple times during your CIO career. Taking the time to do it correctly will help not only your IT department to become more valuable to the rest of the company, but will also end up making you more valuable at the same time.

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

Question For You: How active of a role in implementing a big change in the IT department do you think that the CIO should play?

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

How many times do you have to tell your IT department: it’s time to start innovating again? The global recession is over, if your company is going to start to grow and be successful, then the IT department is going to have to be out in front and leading the charge. Since budgets are still constrained, it’s going to take a great deal of innovation to find ways to do more with what you currently have. Why isn’t anyone doing this?

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Trevor November 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Great point about empathy being a more powerful force than sympathy. What happens when an organization has been in a state of constant change for so long that key personnel start to leave or crack under the pressure? What happens when the IT department and the CIO do not have the support of the rest of the C-level executives because they are too busy trying to survive?

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson December 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Trevor: great questions! The short answer is that everything starts to fall apart. Too much change results in too much pressure and the one thing that everyone in IT is looking for, the ability to make progress every day, goes away. When that happens, nobody is happy and everyone ends up leaving…

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: