What To Do When You Are The Interim CIO

What you do when you are in between positions matters a lot
What you do when you are in between positions matters a lot
Image Credit: Istvan

Congratulations, you’re now the CIO. Well, maybe not quite. You’re actually the interim CIO. What does this actually mean? What it means is that the company understands the importance of information technology and needs somebody to fill the role of CIO while they go looking for the person that they want to fill it permanently. They think that you are good enough to do the job right now, they just are not sure that they want you doing it for the long run. As you can well imagine, from a career point of view this is both good news and bad news.

What It Means To Be An Interim CIO

So what’s up with this interim title? Being placed in this position comes with a great deal of both promise and peril. What most of us would like to do is to take advantage of this opportunity to show the rest of the company what we are capable of. Our goal for doing this is to get the powers that be to decide that we’d be the right person to fill this job permanently.

The challenge that we run into when we are trying to do all of this is that everyone else in the company knows that we are only an interim CIO. They know that we’re not the “real” CIO. This can make getting anything done difficult because we don’t speak with the authority that the real person with the CIO job could speak with. What can make this even more difficult is if you are not getting the support from senior management that you need in order to effectively do your job. To top things off, being an almost CIO can be a bit tough on the ego.

When you find yourself filling an interim role, you are going to have to move quickly. You are going to want to build the relationships within the company that you are going to need to have in order to fulfill the role of CIO. A key point that you’ll have to keep in mind is that you are going to want to move both slowly and carefully. Before you make any decisions that are going to impact your colleagues, you are going to want to first make sure that you have their buy-in. You are also going to want to involve them in the decision making process so that they feel as though they have not lost control.

How You Can Move From Interim To Permanent

If you are lucky enough to land an interim job, your next step has to be to find a way to transform this temporary position into a permanent position. The first step in this process may seem simple, but it is critical. You need to let your boss know that you are interested in having the position. I hate to tell you how many times search committees don’t realize that the person who is currently handling the job would like to be considered for the job full time.

Next, you are going to want to take some of the guess work out of the job. This means that you should take the time to ask some of your senior management what they are hoping that you’ll be able to accomplish. Once you know what this is, then you’ll understand where your focus should be. This will also lead to you setting realistic goals for your time in this position. These need to account for the fact that your status is that of an interim.

When you take over the job of interim CIO, you need to realize that you don’t know everything about the job. This is why it’s going to be important for you to find mentors. You are going to want your mentors help you learn the higher level skills that you are going to need in order to be successful in the CIO job.

What All Of This Means For You

Getting the CIO position can be a great step in your career. Becoming an interim CIO is a little bit more confusing. Yes, your company is saying that they believe that you can perform this job; however, they are also saying that they just want you to do it for a bit while they search for someone to do it permanently. You are going to want to convince them that you are the right person for this job.

One of the biggest challenges that you’ll be facing when you are an interim CIO is that everyone else knows that you are just an interim CIO. This will make getting things done just a bit more complicated. You are going to want to build the relationships that you’ll need to get the job done while at the same time being careful to not step on any toes. In order to land this job permanently you’ll need to make sure that your bosses know that you want the job, you’ll have to find out what people want you to accomplish, you’ll need to set realistic goals, and you’ll need to find some mentors to help guide you.

Congratulations on becoming an interim CIO. You are one step closer to getting the job that you have been working so hard to acquire. Now you are going to have to take steps to make this job yours permanently. If you follow the steps that we’ve covered here, based on your work performance there is a good chance that the “interim” in your job title will be going away and you’ll soon be known simple as the company’s CIO.

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

Question For You: How long do you think that you should plan on working as the company’s interim CIO?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Can we talk about THOSE days? You know the ones that I’m talking about – the ones that just show up and slap you in the face. They may start out just fine, but all too soon they turn into monster days where everyone wants a piece of us and there seems to be no time for us to get the things done that we know that we need to get done because of the importance of information technology. There’s a way to describe how we feel when we run into one of these days – it’s called overwhelmed. When this happens to you, you need to know how to handle it.

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