Time to reflect and put your team centre stage

Our recent team away day gave me some food for thought for this month's blog, especially as it's that time of year when you're likely to be going on a team lunch or having a few drinks after work to celebrate the season.

What does "team" actually mean and how do you as a CIO lead it? Should we all apply the GDS phrase "the unit of delivery is the team"?  Personally, I like it and believe it applies to all teams; commercial, public sector, IT or not IT teams. Perhaps, it's just a reminder of that old saying; 'there's no I in team'.

So what is a team, how does it deliver and how do you lead it to get the best results?

As I reflect on the year, we've seen discussions about professionalism, cognitive computing, 3D printing and augmented reality and much more. IT has yet again made major shifts and nowhere seems more apparent than in the adoption of Agile project management and the continued force of IT to work beyond keeping the lights on.

For all of this, you need a really good team who work and gel together. As CIO, you've possibly been lucky enough to hand-pick your team to ensure that you've got the skill set available. It is important that you have a blend of capabilities that allow you to achieve the organisational goals without being a slave to trends in job roles. Of course, a blended team will need a blended approach to continuous learning and improvement, not always from traditional courses but more from networking and sharing across people with similar interests and needs.

If you're working in an Agile project management way, then your team is likely to be very good at shape-shifting; pulling in different members to blend as needed to achieve the project at hand. Blended teams, the boundaries of which can change significantly will be more common next year. You might change the nature of your relationship with some people in your network over time, from colleague to consultant, or advisor to employee.

Whatever the method of working, the ultimate goal is not only the delivery of the physical technology, but also business transformation. To achieve this, it's a team effort – you simply can't do it on your own. Hand selecting individuals, providing great leadership all contribute, but ultimately, it's the team that actually delivers under your leadership.

So how do we continue to motivate our teams, year in year out, from project to project?

Why not simply ask them what you can personally do to better support them or help them achieve the goals being set. I think, as leaders, especially where there are multiple expectations on us, it's easy to get distracted and fail to notice that the team may need something different from us. Asking is the easiest way to find out what's what.

Motivation is different for each and every one of us. However, one thing that does seem common in motivating individuals is to give recognition for work well done – and this takes us back to the "the unit of delivery is the team".

While it's very important to give individuals the recognition they deserve, it's also vital to take the opportunity to give credit to the team/department as a whole and build wider recognition.

IT delivers so much and we need to shout about it and make sure that the rest of the organisation understands it. This is something you can do as CIO. It'll not only help in making the team feel good to see their name in lights, but it will also help you ensure that your team are recognised as the centre of excellence for all things technology, disruptive and innovative. This is very important considering the apparent demise of the IT budget and rise of the project budget as we've discussed in previous blogs.

By positioning your team as the team that delivers, you are securing the reputation you need to ensure that they and you continue to be seen as leading the whole organisation from the front.

So if you've had a good year and delivered on time to budget, helped the business to grow and benefit from technology, then, as CIO, you should be thankful for you team, pat yourselves on the backs and prepare for the next adventure.


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

Security vs. innovation: IT's trickiest balancing act