Up until a few short years ago, IT departments were usually a cost center. Today, however, more than ever before they are a business enabler. Without an effective IT platform to depend upon, it is nearly impossible to promote innovation and keep your company’s underlying infrastructure running smoothly.
That makes the role of Chief Information Officer more important than ever before. This is especially true as companies seek to outsource a wider variety of tasks to outside providers.
If you are blessed with a CIO who has been able to adapt to these rapid changes in the IT world, you are ahead of the game. But if you need to hire a new CIO or expand your management team so that you can accommodate more rapid expansion, you better make sure you aren’t still using the same job description and hiring strategies because, in all likelihood, they are already obsolete.
Here are some top tips for avoiding the most common pitfalls when hiring a new CIO:
Pitfall 1: Finding a Replacement for Your Old CIO
The exit of your existing CIO provides an excellent opportunity for you to look at the organizational structure of your IT department. If you haven’t been satisfied with the way things have been going, it’s the perfect time to make the type of big changes that could improve the operational value of your organization.
Make a list of the top five or ten ways you would like to improve the operation of your IT department and then answer this question, “Will hiring a replacement for the outgoing CIO help me achieve these goals?” If the answer is no, then you probably are going to have the make some changes.
Before hiring anybody, take the time to understand why you’re having these problems and identify the skill sets you will need to solve them. That gives you the framework for making an informed decision on rebuilding your IT management team.
Pitfall 2: Hitting the Panic Button
In most operations, IT is a critical component to the organization’s overall success. So when there is nobody steering the ship, it can cause executive management to panic.
Yet hiring just anybody to fill the position is exactly the wrong approach. Your company will benefit more in the long run if you take the time to find the right person for the job.
Not only do you want to find the best candidate who possesses all the skill you need to achiever the objectives you have identified, but you want to make sure the new person fits with your culture and complements your existing IT team.
A good place to start is to contact a trusted outsourcing partner who already understands your company’s culture, processes and technology.
Pitfall 3: Only Hiring In-House
True, the people working in your IT department already understand a lot about what makes your company’s strengths and shortcomings are. But can your existing bench strength really take you where you need to go in the next five or ten years? Probably not.
While it’s nice to reward people for their hard work and dedication and it can send a positive message to the rest of your team that you recognize your best performers, the odds that you have the person who possesses all the skills you need to take your IT to the next level are between slim and none.
Pitfall 4: Hiring Someone Who Only Understands Technology
IT workers have gotten the reputation of being introverted computer geeks who lack even the most basic communication skills that allow them to interact with other people.
So many executives are willing to overlook the shortcomings of a CIO candidate if it means they can speak the language of the technology at the expense of communication and collaboration.
In today’s business environment, however, the ability to work effectively with other people both inside your company and with outsourcing providers is at least as important as having the required technical skills. The ability to communicate and conceptualize the big picture requirements of your company are going to be critical for you next CIO.
Pitfall 5: Glossing Over Your Company’s Shortcomings
To get the best candidate through your door, it may be tempting to obfuscate the biggest challenges facing your company’s IT. This is a big mistake.
If your organization is in desperate need of an upgrade or requires structural improvements, keeping this critical information from the person you are going to depend upon to implement these changes is going to backfire in the long run.
Make sure the candidate understands the expectations you have and exactly what they are going to be getting into. Otherwise, you will probably find yourself in the same position you are now a few short weeks or months from now.