12 essential habits of new IT hires

Many CIOs will be thinking about reducing their headcount, rather than recruiting new staff, but if you are in the enviable position of having a vacancy to fill, it's critical to make the best of the opportunity and select a star player.

As department heads, you will already have a good nose for the right applicant, but an excellent article on CIO sister paper InfoWorld recently may give you some more tips.

It's written for the point of view of an employee, but it's easy to spin the 12 points round to illustrate what you should expect from new hires in the modern IT department.

If that wasn't convenient enough, I've done it for you, below:

1 A passion and curiosity about the business: New hires have been selected primarily to add something special to the team's skill-set, but good technical knowledge is only valuable if it's accompanied by an affinity and empathy with the users at the business-end of IT deployment. BYOD and self-procurement initiatives on the increase mean all IT staff have to have a good understanding of the business requirements behind the IT investment decisions.

2 An eye on the budget: Many CIOs are increasingly worried about losing control of IT expenses and at the same time are under pressure to cut them. Any IT staff that prefer to work in splendid isolation, not caring whether their activities waste more money than save it should be avoided. Increasingly individual staff are going to have to take responsibility for IT activities as a whole and they need to see the wider impacts of their individual part in the IT strategy.

3 A confidence to deal with service providers: The increasing adoption of service models, where businesses procure the IT they need from third parties means the role of the IT department may shift from building technology, to supervising others to build and maintain it for them. Any IT staff that are adept at building relationships with suppliers and managing their activities to the full benefit of the company will be more valuable than those with a more insular outlook.

4 A passion for learning new skills: If standing IT teams are going to shrink, individual IT professionals are going to have to wear more than one hat, in case a gap appears in the department's skill-set. Any staff who think they can get by being the resident expert in just one technical discipline will be of less use than those that can identify those gaps, are prepared to learn new technologies and willing to broaden their expertise.

5 A talent for languages: Different workgroups speak to each other in different ways. CIOs know that the idioms and behaviour common in the IT department differ drastically from the banter heard in the rest of the business. Any of your staff that can't adapt their communication behaviour so that they can be easily understood by non-technical colleagues will just reinforce the siloed thinking that prevents the IT department becoming a critical, embedded part of the business. Not should new hires be able to converse with business users on their terms, but they should also have the willingness and patience  to educate them on the arcane language of the tech team.

6 An enthusiasm for learning from the right colleagues: Less useful new hires will gravitate to colleagues who teach them how to sidestep work and hide their mediocrity. Those employees who actively seek out mentors who can enhance their skills and steer them into new challenges will increase their value to your team. This justifies your decision to hire them even further, throughout their careers.

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