How Staff Can Try Out New Roles With No Risk

by drjim on July 8, 2015

IT staff can only grow in their jobs if the risk level is manageable

IT staff can only grow in their jobs if the risk level is manageable
Image Credit: epSos .de

As the person with the CIO job, you want to be in charge of the best IT department possible. It turns out that this means that in addition to getting the rest of the company to understand the importance of information technology, you want to have the best people working for you. Everything else can be purchased: servers, networks, software, etc. However, it’s really the people that you have on your team and their skills that are going to control your career. What this means is that you want to always be making your people better. What’s the best way to go about doing this?

The Power Of A Position Transfer

So here’s the challenge – you’ve got a great set of people working for you in your IT department, but you can never be sure that you really have the right people in the right positions. You’d like to be able to come up with a way for each of the members of your team to be able to expand their set of skills.

One way that CIOs are making this happen is by creating position transfer programs. These programs allow IT staffers to move to different roles within the IT department. We’re not talking about implementing a big game of musical chairs – generally there are between three to five members of your staff participating in this type of program at any given point in time.

Note that this type of program is not the same as one of those “job rotation programs”. One of the big differences is that the people involved are not required to return to their old jobs – if the new position is a good fit for them, then they can stay there. However, if after some set amount of time, the IT staff member decides that they want to return to their old job (or one like it), then they will be permitted to do so. Nobody is penalized if the new job does not work out.

The Problem With Managers

As clever as this program sounds, there is a natural follow-on question that always gets asked. Can managers participate in this program? The answer has to be “no”.

The thinking is that managers who are seeking new opportunities will come to the CIO and discuss it. When you are dealing with people who have reached the executive level in the company, you want to spend more time considering if they should be moved outside of the area where they have been able to contribute the most.

When it comes to finding ways to make sure that your managers have the set of skills that they need in order to move forward in their careers you need to handle this on an individual basis. Creating a program for this doesn’t really make a great deal of sense.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for the person in the CIO position to be successful, the people in the IT department need to operating at the top of their game. In order to make this happen, you are going to have to make sure that you have the right people in the right positions. What is important is that you may not have them there right now – changes are going to have to be made.

In order to find out where everyone needs to go, consider implementing a position transfer program within the IT department. This program would allow people to switch jobs with no cost. They could try out a new job for awhile to see if it was the right job for them. If it is, then they can stay. If it isn’t, then they will be permitted to go back to their old job. You’ll need to come up with a different scheme to deal with managers.

Fitting the right person to the right job is a challenge that CIOs have been struggling with for years. A position transfer program might be just what your company needs to try out. Take a look and find out how your staff feels about this idea, you just might have found a great way to allow your IT team to become even better.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should limit the number of people involved in the program at any one time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job, you really have two separate responsibilities. The one that we are all aware of has to do with the importance of information technology and is the one where you lead the IT department. This consists of the staffing, budgeting, and planning that goes into creating a strong IT infrastructure for the company to run on. The other job that you have is building connections between the IT department and the other departments in the company. It’s this second job that so many of us just don’t understand how to do correctly.

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