1E) People

I think the final top-tier thing to consider in the opening days of a new CIO assignment is to connect with your team. This means your direct reports and your other key team members. Ultimately, your success is based on the people in your team so connecting with them is also a top priority. Some thoughts to consider:

  1. Spend some serious time, 1-1 with your direct reports. If they are remote, then get on a plane. You need to sit with them and listen to them. Ask them about the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Likely, they will give you the key clues you need to spend extra time on in the first 90 days as they are there and have lived in the environment before you arrived. Listen, take notes, repeat back what you hear.
  2. Listen to their career aspirations. What are they doing and what do they want to be doing in 3 years. I used to think one should consider a longer time horizon, but today it is much shorter. People want to get to their next place faster and sooner than ever. I’ve made mistakes here.
  3. Marry the input you receive from your own team with the comments and input you receive from your peers. Where there is alignment, great. Where there are differences, you need to probe further.
  4. Look at their goals. If your company has any kind of goal alignment process, discuss their goals and alignment and discuss their progress towards their goals.
  5. Determine what part of your portfolio of work each of your direct reports are working to carry out. In an earlier step you are talking to your peers about their goals and you’ve started looking at your portfolio of work. Now you need to make sure that your people are watching over the right parts of the portfolio that are necessary to accomplish your peers goals. In short, are you and your new team covering all the bases?
  6. Discuss HR concerns with your team. Ask about their team and any problems. What are they worried about?
  7. Discuss your spending model with your direct reports and see if they think we are over investing or under investing in particular areas.  Likely you’ll find that things are not in balance, or at least different ones of your team will think things are not in balance. Again, listen to them because they likely can give you important hints.
  8. And because I think that security has become so important, discuss with your staff about their role in securing the enterprise. This should be a regular discussion with your team.
  9. Finally, ask your team about key resources in the organization, and perhaps other organizations. You need to quickly become aware of who are the key people and where they stand and how they are doing. These are people you need to meet.

I have to say I’ve done a mixed job at this myself. At times I’ve not invested enough in some of the great people I’ve had around me. I’ve let some really great people get away. Helping your own people meet their goals needs to be a front-burner responsibility for any leader.

Here are some resources which might help. A good post on listening and 5 characteristics of next-level leaders. Just some more food for thought.

Thanks for stopping by. What else should you discuss with your team in the opening days of a new assignment?

3 thoughts on “1E) People”

  1. Hi Mark,

    Just wanted to share my inputs on this topic, not necessarily answering your question. Your comment about people wanting to get to their next place sooner and faster than ever has prompted me to share my experience here.

    In 16 years of my career in IT, as individual contributor, staff administrator, Lead and Manager I have seen 3 types of people.

    1. Happy with what they are doing, kinda’ of a comfort zone they have created in the work they do. These people are usually kind of people that are very happy with the company and are well settled in their current endeavors, they don’t really want CHANGE nor they are willing to accept new challenges. Typically these kind of people have been doing the same thing for long time and don’t want to invest time to try something new. They are very loyal employees and they are willing to go extra-mile to help the company they work when needed.

    2. Not sure about new work, but, what I am doint its ok kind of people (I get my paycheck on time, why worry about trying something new): These type of people typically are self centered and are not willing to expose their potential. They are OK with their paychecks and are happy to be able to do whatever they are assigned. I have found these people to be gossipers, these are the type of people who would like to react on a rumor or gossip. They are very afraid of taking up new challenges or roles.

    3. People who are ambitious and achievers: I call these people as achiever’s, bcoz, these people are willing to take the risk and completely believe in their abilities. Often you find them coming out with ideas and willing to take greater challenges without awareness of the task. These people often are successful and are very hardworking, they strive to achieve the impossible. I think, these are the kind of people that are seeking to do something more challenging in every 3years or more. These are the types of people we need to look out for, they have the energy and they believe in self more that other types..

    Regards, Mahesh

  2. There is no way to edit on word-press after you posted your comment, apologies. I was typing my thoughts and it seems I missed some grammar. on the second type of people. 2. I meant to say, Not sure about new opportunity, but, whatever I am doing is fine and satisfactory to my management…..

  3. Interesting thoughts Mahesh. I’m not sure about the three types being a complete list, but you’ve raised good points.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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