How to survive CIO regime change

The average CIO stays on the job around four years. So chances are you'll live through at least one changeover.

By Minda Zetlin, Computerworld |  IT Management, CIO role

Another good approach is to ask the CIO what information is wanted, and in what form. "You can say, 'Please explain to me what your communication style is, and here's what mine is,'" says Ken Maddock, vice president of clinical engineering and telecommunications services at Baylor Health Care System.

At the same time, be sure to let the new CIO know about any obstacles you're facing. "People have a tendency to try to hide problems," Maddock says. "They think they have time before the new CIO learns that something is going on, and that they can get it fixed. Then, when it does come up, it looks even worse."

Being very open about problems is the strategy Maddock pursued when a new CIO arrived at Baylor. The department had faced some uncertainty and had suffered some staff reductions, and many of his co-workers either laid low or planned their departures. But Maddock's policy of honesty paid off. He was previously director of biomedical engineering but was brought into a departmental leadership council and was eventually promoted to his current position by the new CIO.

Misstep 4: Trying to Be Inconspicuous

Many employees believe that the safest course is a wait-and-see approach, keeping a low profile until they can get a feel for how the new boss works. While this may seem logical, it can be bad for your career.

"There are two dangers to laying low," says Larry Bonfante, CIO at the United States Tennis Association. "First, if you're one of the nameless, faceless masses, it's easier to think of you as expendable. Second, if I'm in that position, I'd rather know sooner than later where I stand, and whether I'm going to be part of the solution here or need to go on to a new opportunity."

Case Study

EMC: A Customer Becomes the Boss

Before Sanjay Mirchandani became CIO at EMC, he was an executive on the business side. "Sanjay was an EMC employee running a very large business unit, so he came in as a former internal customer of ours," recalls Ken LeBlanc, business unit CIO and SaaS operations for RSA, EMC's security division.

"I'm sure he came into the role with a perception from his own experiences with our organization. Until you're in IT, it's not always obvious why some processes and frameworks are they way they are, so part of my responsibility was to help him become an IT guy."

At the same time, Mirchandani wanted IT to see itself from the business units' point of view. "He made us much more aware of the internal customer experience," LeBlanc says. "He placed a significant focus on how to improve the total customer experience. We looked at how we interact with our colleagues across EMC, and how we handle difficult escalations within the organization."

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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