by McCree Lake

Creating an IT organization where people want to work

May 27, 20154 mins
CareersIT LeadershipMentoring

Great IT organizations don't assemble themselves.

The very nature of information and technology is changing and oftentimes right under the nose of enterprise IT leaders. In the vast and complex landscape of corporate IT in both small and large businesses, the focus is on delivery, cost management and stakeholder engagement. However, amazing opportunities are left on the table because the talent dynamics of implementing the next level of IT required for the business to be successful are not fully considered. While new technologies and their impact on our industries are crucial to a strategic IT vision, the long-term success of IT is truly about how it can create organizations that people want to work for. Technology groups are facing a vortex of challenges that create the perfect storm for creating the workforce capabilities that will drive the future of technology needed for business success. Certainly, the shortage of people with the necessary skills for both legacy and emerging technologies matters but the issues are broader. As I think about experiences across various industries, there are three major drivers that create barriers to truly successful human capital management.

Both within IT organizations and outside, there is often a perception that only business support or legacy technologies are within the realm of the CIO. Many new graduates and long-time professionals are seeking new challenges and want to understand that opportunities exist beyond the status quo.

Additionally, within companies and across many industries, technology skills are crucial in across the business. This means that someone with tech skills who historically would have only had the opportunity to work in IT can now pursue a career in marketing, operations or sales. The final driver is often the technology function itself. Driven to always do the right thing in the present, we miss the opportunity to understand our own capability requirements in the future and drive the right talent investments to get there. The challenges are significant but not insurmountable and for savvy technology executives. Leveraging the five concepts below, they have the chance to create organizations people desire to work for – attracting and retaining the best people that directly align to driving business success.

  1. Branding: How many tech organizations are actively thinking about their brand to prospective and current employees? Sure, stakeholders in the business or key clients are considered but perception is a major driver for people’s desire to work in a team or specific field. In many industries, technology is a critical part of the business model, yet the perception is that companies and IT within that industry are dominated by legacy technology, equipment and people that simply want to maintain the status quo. It’s critical that CIOs and tech leaders put their best face forward to attract and retain the best people.
  2. Spirit of opportunity: It relatively easy to catch the spirit of a team after spending some time with them. IT teams are not different and perhaps one of the most critical aspects of creating a team people want to work on is that they have a spirit of opportunity. This doesn’t mean complete freedom to do anything but it does mean a latitude to explore and an openness to new possibilities.
  3. Interlock people and capabilities: Businesses and IT often talk about what capabilities are needed to succeed in the future and how to build them. Technology leaders frequently discuss the latest platforms and trends in industry. People and teams may even be aligned a clear strategy that maps people and competencies to the current and future investment portfolio for IT. Having a comprehensive vision and tangible actions that ensure the people in your organization will be able to build and support future business needs can be a defining factor in the legacy of an executive and make or break the success of the team.
  4. Own the strategy: Too many leaders think that other groups like HR are solely responsible for the IT recruitment, staffing and people management. Certainly, human resources is a crucial partner of effective people strategy; however, IT executives must take a hands-on and top-down approach crafting, executing and measuring the success of creating this organization where people want to work.
  5. Infuse relevance: Mapping tangible connections between people and teams in IT to business success is easily said and more difficult to do. Informal mappings can be great for morale and spurring engagement but creating more formal, systemic connections is important for long-term alignment and accountability.

We don’t always think strategically and opportunistically about how to create an organization where people want to work. The future success of IT organizations and leaders is dependent upon our ability to devekio hubs of excitement, engagement and creativity that will continue to support high stakes business needs, but also look forward and execute on opportunities for the future.