by CIO Staff

How are you improving the skills of your management staff?

Aug 01, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

Jim Burdiss, Vice President and CIO, Smurfit-Stone Container

A: Just as sports stars use specialized coaching to improve themselves, I recognized the need to take both my skills and my team’s skills to a more strategic level. I wanted the leadership team and other IT management teams to take more initiative to communicate, work together across functional lines and partner with business units effectively to benefit the entire enterprise.

We wanted to become a key change agent within Smurfit-Stone. We realized that given the company’s emphasis on leadership development, there were always new things to learn and implement in our daily work lives. Similar to a manufacturing environment, the theme of “continuous improvement” was one that we embraced at the senior level.

As a result, I retained an executive coach to help us develop these skills. As part of this process, we first assessed our behavior, acknowledged what we wanted to do individually and for our team, developed action plans and executed the plans. The first participants with the executive coach were myself and executives at the senior vice president and director level.

Our 34 IT managers made up the second group of participants. We are currently evaluating the effectiveness of the executive coach by measuring things such as employee satisfaction and employee turnover and also by comparing the percentage of professional objectives that were met by employees prior to having the coach and then after participating in the program. These objectives include daily responsibilities like process improvements, cost-cutting measures and creating new programs.

We expect these measures to show a definite leap in our personal and team effectiveness.