How to Increase IT Staff Skills

Practical strategies CIOs are using to give staff broader IT and business experience without increasing headcount

Scenario: Looking for strategies to enhance staff skills

Brett Coryell, Deputy CIO, Emory University

We are just finishing a two-year redesign of our job families, and we’re now ready to look at other support structures that help lock in both technical and soft skills. I have a variety of pilot mentorship programs and am starting two summer projects to create a development activities guide and an improved onboarding program. The last piece in the puzzle is an experiential job rotation program for my 300 staff and managers. For staff, rotating to a different job for a set amount of time could let them practice new skills and get a realistic preview of what a new job would entail. For managers, job rotations would give them greater appreciation for the challenges of other parts of IT and foster more efficiency when working across teams.

To keep things simple, I’m planning to keep the rotations within my IT department, which is still large enough to have dozens of different jobs. The current sticking points are the many logistical considerations to making this kind of a program a reality, such as back-filling positions, finding the optimal length of a rotation, and differentiating the staff- and manager-level programs. After we have an IT job rotation program in place, I want to consider additional experiential learning opportunities.

Advice: Provide a Safety Net for Trying New Roles

Julie Sokol, SVP of IT, The Irvine Company

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