July 16, 2012, 9:43 AM — Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Edward Martin
The deputy CIO at George Washington University answers questions about pay equity, indispensable skills and how to become a CIO.
My company has fallen well behind the average compensation in our area for several IT positions. I've lost many people in my group, and this trend seems to be accelerating. But when I've talked to management about bringing our pay in line with local norms, I've been told that we just don't have the budget for increases. How can I argue my point more persuasively? Many IT leaders face this challenge. The answer depends upon the IT area with which you are struggling to keep up with the market. For areas that are becoming more commoditized, such as data networking, data center, help desk, imaging and deskside support, present alternatives that may need to include outsourcing or external help. Frame options with an attention to service levels and impact. For areas that are more critical to your business and processes, such as business analysis, project management, systems design, process management or contract management, frame requests in terms that management will understand. Propose a plan to bring pay in those areas up to market rates. Managers generally embrace plans that either emphasize shareholder value or minimize risk. Most important, base your proposal or recommendation on facts, not emotions or opinions. Your HR department can provide data about salary levels.
If you were required to cut your staff by 20%, which skills or traits would you most want to hold on to? I would want the skills and traits that are aligned with a deep understanding of the business and that position the staff and teams to do more with less. For skills, I would want to retain business analysts, systems designers, project managers and process managers. For traits, I would retain multiskilled personnel who demonstrate strong critical thinking and good innovation skills. For management and leadership traits, I would want to retain people who are not only accountable and able to exhibit good managerial courage, but also selfless -- and show it through actions and words. An often undervalued attribute whose value increases dramatically in a downsized IT organization is communication. People who can comprehend and explain technical concepts and also translate business terms for and from senior management are invaluable.