by Meridith Levinson

Nobody Likes Change

Aug 15, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

Whether you’re restructuring your IT department, deploying new technologies or responding to new business requirements, one thing is certain: Your staff will become unsettled. Some may quit; others may spend more time worrying than working. Anxiety eats into efficiency. Face it: Nobody really likes change. But CIO 100 honorees employed these tactics to mitigate the risks of their bold staffing maneuvers.

1. Do It Fast

Fireman’s Fund CIO Fred Matteson and Delaware Department of Technology and Information CIO Tom Jarrett both made it their business to quickly identify which IT workers had a future with their new organizations and which did not. By getting the winnowing-out part of the process over with fast, they quelled anxiety, restored productivity and were able to focus their attention on the transition rather than dealing with disruption and gossip.

2. Accentuate the Positive

When he helped dismantle the Delaware IT department’s civil service system, Jarrett focused on what was in it for his employees. Because money talks, he emphasized how much more they would earn in the new organization, and how being paid for performance would make them more attractive to private-sector employers.

Jim Craig, vice president of information systems with Cooper Communities, convinced his staff to live with new (and public) performance objectives with the promise that the work available to them would become more interesting once they met the new internal service-level agreements.

3. Train Them (They Like It)

Matteson at Fireman’s Fund and Chuck Clabots, former vice president of information management, services and products at Carlson Marketing Group, prevented the mass exodus of their IT workers with the prospect of training in hot skills such as Java, .Net and service-oriented architecture.

4. Use Carrots (and Sticks)

When Matteson decided to outsource maintenance to refocus his staff on application design, he estimated that about 20 percent of his staff might be ready to retire. So he made their severance pay dependent on their willingness to stay until the transition to the reengineered IT organization was complete.