50/50 Employee

Do you have an employee that does some things really well but other things horrible? I call such employees 50/50.

Question, is it worth keeping such an employee on staff? Do employees like this provide value to a team or are they more trouble than they are worth?

Example, you have an employee that is a great technologist. When there is a fire he is the first one in and resolves the issue. When there are no fires, he struggles or most times does not provide the mundane information to monitor the environment. For example, documentation diagrams, KPIs, etc. So other employees have to pick up the slack.

There have been various methods used to tell this employee what is expected. From goal settings, to individual one-to-one meetings, to plain this is how it needs to be done. Yet very little improvement.

So this begs the question, does this employee’s value in a crisis outweigh his value overall to the team and department?

 

Staying Above the Fray

The other day I was talking to someone outside my line about an IT issue and how best to address. During the course of the conversation the topic turned from business to gossip and then into an attack on a person’s character.

CIOs are privy to a lot of information that we come across during our everyday processes and during executive meetings. That is just the nature of the beast and part of carrying the chief in your title. As the conversation devolved into this maligning gossip I quickly recognized what was occurring and stayed quiet. I was hoping that the person would recognize that one I was uncomfortable and two due to my position could not and should not participate in such talk.

Eventually I had to say that I had no comment on the matter and walked away.

I have zero tolerance for gossip in the work place. When I hear it or get wind of it, I tune out. From my experience gossip sessions have a tendency of sweeping everyone into it like a tsunami. And as it builds momentum your name becomes associated with it indirectly.

It is best in the long-run to stay clear, very clear from it.

5 Things Every CIO Should Know…

As CIO, you should …

  1. Know when to try harder and when to walk away. (Being CIO means there will be days you will fail. It is part a part of the job.)
  2. Know who you can trust, who you can’t. (Politics plays an important role in our careers)
  3. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault. (Others will be quick to blame you because it is easy.)
  4. Believe that you deserve being CIO. (You are CIO for a reason. Be a CIO.)
  5. Have a résumé that that shows how strategic you are. (It is documented and ready in the event you need it.)

Mr. CIO Meets the Interns

My company has started a new program to get our interns oriented to process and provide relevant information about various departments. It is called “Jumpstart”.  The goal is to give all our interns a flavor and/or in depth knowledge of various “things” they should know to work effectively. Most firms just throw their interns into the deep end and have them either sink or swim. We are taking the more humane approach in our internship program.

So I was asked to present about what is IT, what we do and some high level overviews of some critical apps. It has been some time since I present such information. Like most CIOs, I usually present to boards and execs, information with a lot more detail, ROIs, KPIs, budget projections, and a bunch of stuff that can make the average person fall asleep. It has been a very long since I was intern, so I had to spend some time thinking back to when I was one what did I want to know?

It was hard. So I created a fluff 40 slide PowerPoint that showcased the MIS department and the critical processes and applications I think any intern should know. I was shocked. It worked out well–very well. I had engaged my audience of 20 somethings by keeping it light and funny or as funny as technology can be.

Something else had occurred that I was not expecting. They started asking questions about why we do certain things and it turned into a brainstorming class as they began to think outside the box on how to improve the organization. Some of their ideas, I must admit, were out there, but I saw the future benefits.

The lesson I learned was to not write off the interns. In fact, as CIOs we should listen to them. They have not been tainted by corporate politics or turned into status quo zombies. They might have fresh ideas that can improve the bottom line of an organization. Think Facebook…

The Guerrilla CIO

A few years back a term was coined – Guerrilla IT. The concept of ‘Guerrilla IT’ meant conceiving and delivering business-oriented products and services quickly and interactively. You don’t hear much about it or if many shops are employing guerrilla IT strategies. I am not sure why this fell out favor in the industry?

Being a Guerrilla CIO means you are focused on striking a balance between agility and innovation, reusing available resources and technology, to avoid unwieldy procurements and their associated risks. As the economy continues to sputter along and IT budgets are still tight, The Guerrilla CIO must allow the delivery of quick wins to the business which can make a real competitive difference in organizations.

All CIOs today are driven by a cost-reduction mantra; many of us have been focusing our organization on a set of core services and then optimizing them, either by strategic sourcing or by reengineering to make them as efficient as possible. Managing our IT project portfolio and helping the business improve processes and enable growth or efficiency through strategic use of IT has always and will always be a CIO’s main objective.

Pitching the Technical Solution

Presenting a case to non-technical executives is always a challenge. While executives are focused on ROI and keeping cost predictable and sensibly manageable, some do have an ear for technology solutions that bring value and savings over time to an organization. Not all technology requests have to be feared as long as they are presented in a fashion that makes fiscal sense.

When pitching IT solutions, do not take a technical approach. Leave the technological advantages for last and only after you have captured the attention and interest in your money and resource saving IT virtual solutions. Make the following three points when explaining your ideas.

1- Savings Over Time. Present factors that can ultimately lead to big savings on capital expenditures on hardware/software showing that purchasing fewer systems will improve the bottom line.

2- Time Savings. The idea will lead to more time spent on critical projects that add value and dollars to the bottom line. This free time can be spent on strategy planning and moving the enterprise to a higher operating plane.

3- Increase Performance. Performance can be improved without having to buy more keeping a tight budget.

Back up all the above with KPIs. Hard graphical data trending over time always captures everyone’s attention. It is hard to dispute the cold reality of numbers.

 

A New York CIO

Ahh New York… There is no other city like it in the world.

I have been to cities all over the world but I consider New York home. There is an electricity that resonates from it and an excitement when you are in it.

I am a born and bred New Yorker. Born in Brooklyn, grew up in the burbs, worked in the city my entire professional career. There is more to being a New York CIO then knowing the best pizza joints or being able to curse like it is my first language.

Being a New York CIO means having to hustle every day.  New York CIOs are always on the go. Rushing from meeting to meeting; doing things at 100mph. There is no slow pace for us. We operate at light speed. We talk fast, think fast, work fast. Anything less and we are left behind. We are product of the environment we work in and live it. A city that is always on – 24×7. Going from uptown to downtown in a blink of an eye.

We are the CIOs that have survived blackouts, blizzards, protests, strikes of varying sorts and 9/11.  We tend to walk around with a little more gusto than those who have not experienced such events and can brag how we got through it. We wrote the book on disaster planning .

It is true, if you can make it here you really can make it anywhere….