Always sell the IT department and its benefits to every sector of the company. Depending on the technical savvy of the user population, this can be a challenging task, as some may see IT merely as a cost center and not as a true partner to the business. It’s crucial that the CIO market the value of technology, showing how it can help the business, while also ensuring that IT systems really are meeting the needs of employees and that they know how to use them effectively. Your managers and staff must be customer-focused as well, and as good at being technology ambassadors as you are so that the message is consistent.
Sometimes you may need to take responsibility for past mistakes. Often, when we get confidential CIO replacement assignments, the reason our clients give for looking for a new CIO is that the current one has not done an effective job developing relationships with business people and is seen as reactive, rather than proactive, about technology solutions that will make the company more effective and profitable. Even if your decisions aren’t the reason that there are rocky relations between IT and the business, it’s important to apologize, communicate plans going forward and get key users on board so that their departments will follow.
Never hole up in your office and let your staff do all the work. While there is a balance of strategy and technology management in any CIO’s role, it’s vital to be highly visible in the organization. Users want to know that you are aware of what they need to accomplish on a day-to-day basis and can provide innovative technology that can help. Your presence will increase IT’s credibility and user buy-in for technology projects in the long run.
Tracy Cashman is partner and general manager of the IT group at staffing firm Winter, Wyman, which specializes in recruiting and placing IT professionals.