How CIOs Build Bridges To Other Departments

 CIOs need to find ways to reach out to other departments
CIOs need to find ways to reach out to other departments
Image Credit: Aidan Wakely-Mulroney

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.

The Power Of A Rotational Program

The idea of taking members of the IT department and placing them in different roles within the IT department has been around for a long time. We call these “job rotation” programs. However, I’m going to suggest that as the CIO you need to think bigger. You need to create a job rotation program that allows you to build bridges to other departments in the company.

These programs can’t be optional, otherwise nobody is going to take the time to participate in them. As the person in the CIO position, you need to make participation in the company-wide job rotation program a part of the IT staff’s performance review objectives.

The goal of having IT staff work with other parts of the business is to provide them with an opportunity to forge strong business relationships outside of the IT department. If you are going to have IT staff actually work in other departments, it’s generally a good idea to have that last for a single month in order to minimize the disruption to the IT department.

The Impact Of Mentors

Just getting IT staff to work in other departments in the company is a good first step. However, it’s not enough. Have a person who is already in that other department agree to act as a mentor for your IT staff member while they are in the department.

In order to pay the mentor back for the time that they will be investing in your employee, require that that employee introduce some sort of new process improvement or other business solution as a result of their time in the department. By doing this, each member of the rotation program will have a chance to create a lasting change for the company.

You’ll need to meet with the mentors and make sure that they see the value of your rotation program. What you will want to happen is for the mentors to drive the relationship with the IT staff members. This can include such things as discussion sessions, assigned reading, and hands on experiences. The result of this level of mentoring should be to provide the IT staff member with a greater understanding of how IT technology can be applied to solve problems for the department.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs have many different jobs. One of the biggest ones that you have is to find ways to build bridges between the IT department and the other departments in the company. A great way to go about doing this is to create a job rotation program that places IT workers in other departments throughout the company for up to a month.

In order for this type of job rotation program to be a success, you are going to have to ensure that a mentoring program also exists. While your staff is part of another department they need to keep their eyes open and identify ways that the IT department could solve problems for the department.

At the heart of any CIO job is the ability to communicate well with others. Creating a job rotation program that involves the rest of the company is a great way to accomplish this. Take the time to work with both sides of the rotation program and then you’ll be able to benefit from the bridges that your team has built for you.

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

Question For You: How many people do you think should be involved in a rotation program at one time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Hey CIO, how’s that IT department of yours looking these days? If you are like most of us, you are fairly happy with how your IT department has been put together, but there are some areas in which you’d like to make a few changes. Sound like it’s time for a reorganization of the IT department. However, before you get this started, you need to realize that you’ve going to be impacting everyone who works for you. Do you know how to do this correctly?