by Priyanka Ganwani

How CIOs ensure their teams stay motivated

Sep 19, 2016

Improved team results can be often credited to employee engagement policies and activities carried out for techies. Here are some CIOs who talk to us about how they make projects so much more exciting and help break the monotony for their teams. 

As techies work round-the-clock to close projects, companies try to keep them motivated. Regular employee engagement by IT heads and HR teams ensures that IT teams take on challenging and satisfying tasks in an environment that is competitive, yet rewarding. We spoke to CIOs from organizations across various industry sectors to understand how they ensure their teams stay focused and motivated.

Shikha Rai, Vice President – IT & HR, Canon 

At Canon, the team is big on rewarding their techies for various projects. There is a culture of exchange of ideas across teams and this is done through the `Breakthrough Projects and Awards’ initiative. This is a company-wide initiative to encourage innovation and creative thinking. It is a bottom-up approach on ideation where any employee can post an idea on improvement. Small groups are formed and the idea is implemented. Upon successful implementation of the idea, the idea generator and the implementation team is felicitated by the CEO. Such an initiative helps improve cross-functional engagement and sets the path for change in the organisation. Similarly, the Spot Awards is an exciting initiative which is a great motivator for employees.This is where a manager can give an on-the-spot award for a good job done by a team-member. A specified amount gets credited to the employee. It is just like a pat-on-the-back. The employee can then utilise this amount for buying groceries or having a meal with his family. Further, encouragement is also given to the teammates to pursue opportunities that include international assignments. At present two colleagues from the India IT team are working in our Singapore office on a one-year assignment. The employee engagement program emphasizes on acknowledgement through small gestures as well. For instance, since the tech team supports the sales and services and involves cross engagement  a thank-you card can be sent to any colleague. It is an on-line card shop and employees can pick a card for a colleague who ran an extra mile for them. This peer recognition helps building good camaraderie amongst cross-functions. And, the teams celebrate over the success of their projects. Any celebration of success, be it big or small is a good way to bond and re-energise for the next challenge.”

The company also extends its support to finance their further education. We have a staff education support policy where the organisation supports the employee with a percentage of the fee for higher education. Also there is a provision to take a loan from the company for such education. 

Harnath Babu, CIO, KPMG 

The thought about a genuine ‘pat on the back,’ is taken extremely seriously here. At KPMG, ‘Kudos,’ is a round of awards or acknowledgement for any good project carried out by just about any employee and is conducted quarterly. This comes with gifts for the winners and it is ensured that an official announcement is made through our internal communications. The workforce is also encouraging of those who are newly recruited, with the ‘Rising Star’ program. Anybody who is relatively new but has taken charge of a particular project and done well at that receives much recognition for his/her efforts. Similarly, for those who have been around for a bit longer or those who are in senior positions, get to make the most of `People Champions’. So, these are senior people who create an engagement platform to share various experiences and are allotted a budget for team building activities.  Apart from looking at teams respectively and giving them the recognition they deserve, a special effort is made to ensure engagement and interaction across teams. All team leaders are supposed to collaborate on video calls, once a week to help exchange, brainstorm and discuss ideas, since we don’t believe in working in silos. This leads to a sense of motivation.

Glory Nelson, CIO, SpiceJet 

Employee retention and engagement however takes a different turn for the tech team in airline companies. The employee engagement initiatives are more to do with the projects rolled out and training required for them. From the retention perspective, we do a lot of training, a lot of transformation programs and a lot of new projects. What I am constantly doing is attach them to a team of vendors, because we are engaging our partners to help us with developing some of the cutting-edge projects.  The employees then attend workshops and training from vendors to help understand new technology better, so that they get a perspective about where the industry is moving. Training is emphasized on social media, analytics and cloud. There are times when we are thinking about a product/assignment which is relatively new, so instead of reaching out to the vendors first we ask for support within the team. If they are able to take up the project, they develop it and our work pipeline is structured accordingly.