CIO Lessons 2: How to manage people

See also: CIO Lessons 1, how to manage change

CIO Lessons 3, how to manage suppliers

Thanks to our panel:
Jonny Gifford, principal researcher, Roffey Park Institute
Ibukun Adebayo, CIO Turning Point
David Jack, CIO, The Trainline
Judith Elliot, Elconsulting

Did you know?
Compared to other professional managers, tech managers:

- Set direction with their teams less often
- Communicate less with their reports when it comes to gaining buy-in, canvassing opinion, encouraging ideas and suggestions, and listening to feedback
- Hold one-to-one meetings with their reports less often

— Roffey Park Institute

Technical leaders tend to come with a strong suit of competencies, and people management is not one of them. While this stereotype may be a little harsh, there are certainly some soft that skills tech experts find especially difficult.

Our panel offers guidance:

Forget the technology
"The IT trend is to train people to be technologists. I say to my managers, forget about the technology. You wouldn't have a job without customers or the people.

If you focus on technology alone, you can't support technology unless you take your customers along with you. It's not just that I keep this in my mind. I reinforce this with my team at every team meeting."
Ibukun Adebayo

Lead first
"If you don't lead your people, you're going to be a lone ranger. But you'll need a fundamental shift in mindset, because the very notion of leadership can be seen as antithetical to expertise.

The challenge is that tech experts are used to being deferred to or, if it's not their area of expertise, deferring to others. Leadership is about achieving through others, which is not the same as leaving them to their own devices."
Jonny Gifford

Seek 360 degrees feedback
"I open myself to the business from the HR processes, but I open myself to the team as well. You have to learn to open yourself to constructive criticism and learn about your weaknesses.

It can be helpful to call these 'areas for development', because it makes people less defensive to examine what they are, how to improve and how they work together as a team.

I find that people beat themselves up over their weaknesses. But really, it just means that you are strong in other areas."
Ibukun Adebayo

Open your door
"Absolutely every individual in the team knows they can come into my office at any time as long as it's not to complain about their manager.

They can discuss anything including personal matters. It's not a strategy that works for everyone. But it's the reason I know what is going on across the business.

If there's an issue outside work that can potential affect performance, I can act to mitigate it. I don't try and solve people's problems, but I may refer them to a source of help."
Ibukun Adebayo

Divide and conquer
"It's not politically correct but it can work a treat in the high-octane word of IT where bright minds compete for the most interesting work.

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