How Can CIOs Pick Tomorrow’s Stars?

CIOs want to know how to correctly identify their star performers
CIOs want to know how to correctly identify their star performers
Image Credit: Susanne Nilsson

On top of all of the jobs that the person with the CIO job has to do, one of the most important is identifying the leaders of tomorrow. What this means is that from all of the employees that the firm has, some of them are better than others. What a CIO needs to be able to do is to figure out who the company should make the investment in and who they should pass over. Doesn’t sound easy, does it?

The Challenge Of Trying To Find Tomorrow’s Stars

Not all employees are the same. Some have the skills and talents that will allow them to understand the importance of information technology and rise to leadership positions. What CIOs want to be able to do is to be able to identify those employees who have this potential. The reason that picking tomorrow’s leaders today is so hard is because we do a very poor job of it. A recent survey of managers at 134 different companies revealed that they only select the right candidates roughly half the time.

Right now, CIOs generally delegate the task of identifying which of their workers have the potential to become leaders to their managers. These managers in turn rely on either their gut feel about an employee or on the results of annual evaluations to make their decisions. Considering that they are wrong 50% of the time, this means that a large portion of the US$70B – US$75B that firms spend on employee training each year is probably being wasted on the wrong people.

What makes picking the next generation of business leaders even harder for a CIO is the simple fact that when managers are placed in charge of a team and are then asked to pick the high potential employees, they more often than not end up picking candidates that are very similar to themselves.

Possible Ways To Improve The Odds Of Picking The Right People

CIOs have to get better at picking the right set of workers who really do have what it takes to lead the company in the future. Studies have shown that when an employee is selected as a part of a high-potential (“hi-pot”) group, they tend to stay on longer and put in more effort at work. However, there is a downside to this selection of the best of the best. Generally about 10% of your workers will be selected as hi-pots, 70% of the remaining workers have the potential to turn into “po-pos”, “pissed off and passed over”.

In order to get better at the selection of the right group of hi-pots, more and more companies are starting to use assessments that are similar to those used to vet executive-level talent. These assessments are being use to evaluate thousands of employees at many levels of the organization. However, one of the problems with this approach is that these tests can be very expensive. Vendors who make HR software are starting to develop their own solutions. They claim that algorithms built using an array of metrics can yield valuable information about high potentials.

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs have the responsibility to evaluate the company’s staff in order to identify the stars of tomorrow. It turns out that this task is more challenging than many of us may realize. What we really need is a way to make accurate predictions about which of our employees are going to be successful.

It turns out that at most companies they only accurately pick the stars of tomorrow 50% of the time. Most of the time the stars of tomorrow are selected based on a manager’s gut feelings. It turns out that managers tend to pick stars that look like them. A big downside to selecting stars from your employees is how it makes the rest of your staff feel.

Identifying the company’s leaders of tomorrow is a critical part of being the person in the CIO position. Right now we really don’t have an accurate way of accomplishing this. New tools are being created that are designed to help us make better star employee selections. We need to keep our eyes open and do some experimentation to determine if these new tools can help us to accurately pick the leaders that the company is going to need.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should have a system in place to make corrections when you pick the wrong candidates to be a star?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Back in the day, airline passengers could be assured that their time in the air meant that they had an excuse to unplug and step away from the constant need to do more and more work. Since they could not be connected to the Internet when they were in flight, they were released from their obligations. However, now because of the importance of information technology airline CIOs may be able to extend the Internet to their airplanes – how will passengers react?

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