How CIOs Waste Their Employee’s Time

It’s what we don’t know that can cause time to be wasted
It’s what we don’t know that can cause time to be wasted
Image Credit: Harry

As is the case with all CIO’s, you’d like to be the best boss that you can possibly be. There are a lot of characteristics of good bosses: they treat their employees with respect, they give good directions, and they praise people when they accomplish something significant. However, even if you are able to do some or all of these things and support the importance of information technology, is it possible that you are still a bad boss? One characteristic of a bad boss would be one that wastes other peoples time. Could you be doing this and not even be aware of it?

How Do CIOs Waste Other Peoples Time?

If you want to find out if you have been wasting other people’s time, you need to take a very careful look at your behaviors in the office. One big time waster that the person with the CIO job can cause is when we get excited about the next management fad that we read about. When we get excited about the next “lean” approach to getting things done, we may then announce an IT department wide program to implement the new style of doing work. However, we may have forgotten about the last initiative that we got excited about and we are now asking the people who work for us to drop what they were doing and start doing things differently.

Another problem that the person in the CIO position may cause is that the people that we work with may come be to believe that we are too self-absorbed with ourselves. When this happens, the people around us may start to spend their time telling us what they think that we want to hear. They will also spend their time doing what they think will make us happy. The can lead to a situation that researchers call “executive magnification”. When this happens, the people in your IT department will react strongly to your words and actions in ways that you never intended them to. As an example, if you happen to mention that there never seem to be enough orange Post-It pads you may discover that there are an enormous number of orange Post-It pads everywhere that you go in the future.

There is yet another way that CIOs can slow an entire organization down and waste people’s time. This situation is referred to by researchers as “cookie licking”. As children, we may have licked cookies in order to prevent other children from taking those cookies. As CIOs, we may not realize that things have changed and something that we used to do we can no longer do. An example of this is interviewing new employees for the IT department. Perhaps you should have been involved when there were only 25 people in the department, but should no longer be involved when there are 500.

How Can A CIO Stop Wasting Other People’s Time?

As a CIO what steps can you take to make sure that you are not wasting people’s time? The first thing that you can do is to listen to what people are telling you. If you hear nothing but good news from the people who work for you, then you need to become skeptical. At the same time you need to watch what you say especially when it comes to minor complaints and offhand remarks. You need to listen to what you are saying and if you say something that someone could interpret as a desire for a change or a command, you need to be careful to tell people to not do anything – you were just talking to yourself.

A lot of CIOs ask the people who work for them to be honest with them and to provide then with unfiltered feedback. However, this can cause a great deal of problems for you. If you don’t actually listen to what people are telling you, then very quickly they are going to realize that you didn’t really want them to provide you with feedback and they are going to stop giving it to you. If you allow this to happen, then going forward you’ll never get the feedback that you were looking for. Turning off this form of communication is a big mistake because you may not be able to turn it back on.

Another way that CIOs can avoid allowing the wrong people to tell them things that won’t help to make the IT department a better place is by making changes to how they reward employees. All too often we can reward and promote those employees who don’t give us a hard time and who quietly go about doing what we have asked them to do. Something for a CIO to think about is that perhaps the people that we should be rewarding are the people who are always pointing out mistakes and things that are not being done well. These are the people who are best positioned to help the IT department learn how to do things better.

What All Of This Means For You

All CIOs would like to be known as being a good boss. However, it turns out that if we are not careful then the little things that we do may be causing the people who work for us to waste a great deal of time. If we are causing this to happen, we need to detect it and then find ways to stop doing it.

One way that a CIO can waste employee’s time is by getting excited about the next management fad that comes along. What we forget is that everyone is currently trying to implement the last fad that we got excited about and so this new fad is going to require a lot of new learning and wasting of time. Sometimes we may get so caught up in ourselves that the people around us start to tell us only the things that we want to hear. What can happen is then that every little comment that we make gets magnified and turns into a great deal of needless work for other people. Finally, we may get involved in “cookie licking” in which we remain involved in activities that we should no longer be doing. In order to stop wasting people’s time, we need to start to listen to what people are telling us and become skeptical about what they are saying. If you ask people to give you honest feedback then you need to take action based on what they tell you. You may also want to change how you reward employees and start to reward the employees who are always pointing out how things can be made better.

Our job as CIO is to find ways to get the most out of the employees in the IT department. The one thing that we don’t want to be doing is wasting everyone’s time. In order to make sure that we are not doing that, we need to be aware of how we are interacting with our employees. Once we are able to spot any issues, we can take steps to do a better job of communicating exactly what we want and with a little luck prevent any extra needless work from being done.

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

Question For You: If you think that people are just telling you what you want to hear, what can you do to get the truth?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

With a little luck, we’ve all gotten the message by now: having a more diverse IT department makes for a better IT department. However, despite the fact that most companies have spent a lot of money trying to teach everyone about the power of diversity, we still don’t seem to have done a very good job of making our departments diverse. It turns out that one of the big problems that the person with the CIO job is dealing with is that the people doing the interviewing are bringing their bias to the interview table. We all like people who are like us. What can be done about this?