Just How Important Are Good Managers?

CIOs need to make sure that they have the best managers working for them
CIOs need to make sure that they have the best managers working for them
Image Credit: Enrique Martinez Bermejo

Having the CIO job is tough. Because of the importance of information technology, the company expects you to be able to accomplish a great deal. The world in which you work, IT, is constantly changing and it can be quite difficult to keep up with everything that is going on. This is why you need to have the best team of people working in your IT department. Finding those people, getting them to agree to join your IT department, and then convincing them to stay is a full time job on top of everything else that you are expected to do. Recent studies have shown that if you want your staff to stay, it have more to do with the managers that you have working for you than anything else.

The Power Of Managers

Think about your company for a moment. What do they keep track of? I’m willing to bet the answer to that question is just about everything. Companies track everything from changes in their inventory to individual worker productivity. However, where things can get interesting is when you realize what companies are not tracking. For example, companies traditionally don’t keep track of the quality of the relationships between employees and managers. During times in which low unemployment makes it even more important for the person in the CIO position to find ways to hang on to your top talent, taking a look at this relationship starts to become more and more important. It turns out that having a good boss can make all of the difference in the world.

What a number of different firms have started to do is to ask their employees to rate their managers. These ratings generally use up to a dozen different types of metrics to try to capture the current state of their relationship. Not all that surprisingly what these firms are starting to discover is that how high a manager ranks on his or her employee survey often has a direct relationship with how likely the people who are working for them will either stay with the firm or leave it.

The good news for CIOs is that if they have managers who have a low score on this employee evaluation, then this is not the end of the world. Instead, once these managers are made aware that they have a problem, things can change. There are a number of different things that low scoring managers can do to improve their scores. These include receiving individual coaching and taking the time to talk with their teams. As these manager’s scores started to improve, so did the desire of the people who work for them to stay with the firm.

How To Make Your Managers Better

A number of firms have implemented programs that were designed to provide them with feedback on how their employees and managers were interacting. The most common way of going about doing this has been to perform what are called 360-reviews. A 360-review occurs when an employee receives rating by their subordinates, bosses, and selected peers. While these types of reviews are fine, they often don’t do a good job of capturing the relationship between an employee and their manager. A better way of going about doing this is to create a review that instead focuses on managerial behaviors. What you are going to want to know about are a given manager’s behaviors that play the greatest role in motivating the employees who work for them.

In order to make such a communication tool work effectively, CIOs need to make decisions about how often they want to collect their data. Once a year is the minimum, what most firms are discovering is that they need to reach out to their employees at least twice a year in order to check on how their relationship with their boss is going. The purpose of collecting this data is to determine how good of a job the managers are doing. The survey needs to make sure that it collects data on issues such as if the manager has talked with the employee about career development during the past six months.

The feedback from the IT employees can provide a CIO with a great deal of information. In one example, of the employees who were working for the bosses who scored in the bottom 25% of all managers at the firm, 37% said that they were not planning on continuing to work for the firm in a year. This was in sharp contrast with the employees who worked for the bosses who scored in the top 25% of all of the managers at the firm of whom only 6% said that they planned on leaving the firm. The results of all of this is that it turns out that employees who respond negatively to the questions on the survey are five times as likely to leave within the next year.

What All Of This Means For You

Being a CIO is a tough job. However, in order to get the most out of your IT staff you are going to need to have a good collection of managers working in the IT department. The real challenge that you will be facing is trying to determine if your managers are doing a good job of motivating your staff. The one thing that you want to avoid happening is having your IT staff leave because they didn’t get along with their managers.

At most firms, the relationship between employee and manager is not closely tracked. This is odd because what an employee thinks of their manager can often play a big role in whether or not they end up staying with the firm. Firms are starting to have their employees rate their managers. The higher the manager rates, the better the chance the employee will remain with the firm. Managers who score low on the employee evaluation can be changed through coaching and by working more closely with their team. 360-degree reviews are good, but they don’t capture enough of the boss / employee relationship. Customized surveys are often required. This type of data should be collected twice a year. Studies have shown that employees who work for low rated bosses are much more likely to want to leave the firm in the next year.

CIOs need to understand that in order to hang on to the talent that they have been able to attract to their IT department, they are going to have to take a closer look at the managers that they have working for them. It turns out that the quality of the manager to employee relationship is one of the strongest factors in an employee deciding to stay or go. CIOs need to take steps to make sure that they have the best managers working for them.

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

Question For You: If a CIO has an under performing manager working for them, what can be done to improve them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ah, email. What a powerful tool. What an utter nightmare! The person who has the CIO job probably uses email so often that they no longer really spend that much time thinking about it. However, that may be a mistake. What we forget is that email is a tool and if we can learn how best to use it, then we can become more effective. The good news is that email is something that the researchers have been spending a lot of time taking a look at. Their goal has been to find out how we can become smarter about how we use email at work in order to boost the importance of information technology. Let’s take a look at what their research has uncovered.