Posted by: S R Balasubramanian
CIO choices, CIO leadership, CIO options, CIO priorities, CIO role, CIO’s role, job delegation, people development, team management, training and development
A few years into my role as a CIO, I realized that having the right people in the team is perhaps the single most important factor to be successful. In the initial period, I had struggled with my team which consisted of a few old timers, some good professionals, and youngsters. Some were effective and enthusiastic and others were placid and unambitious. Frankly, some did not fit into the group at all and caused considerable friction in the team. In such cases, it was natural for me to pick up the good ones in the team and entrust them with all the critical tasks. This was rather unfair as the sincere amongst them got overburdened while others were cornered and denied opportunity.
In the next organization I was fortunate to have a small but a good team and I added a few more based on our projected plans. As we slowly built up systems, people got involved and worked together to achieve success. Having tasted success, they wanted to do more and joined hands to scale greater heights. I could then sense the synergy in the group and general positivity which was wonderful.
It is said that there is no better way to learn than by experience. Experience showed me the magic of team dynamics and the importance of having the right people together. It is pertinent to quote Jim Collins from his book “Good to Great’. He says: “First get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figure out where to drive it.” He lays emphasis on the having the right people with you even before you begin your journey. Wrong people in the group may destroy teamwork, damage morale, and spread inefficiency and discontent.
Thumbs up to team work
Now let us look at the advantage that comes with having the right people in your team.
(a) Great teamwork: People feel comfortable working with each other and create a supportive environment. There is synergy in the group and the output often exceeds the targets set. You have self-managed and self-motivated people who need no supervision.
(b) High morale: The positive work environment ups the morale of the team and people feel excited and enthusiasm is palpable. People are self-driven and do not look for incentives.
(c) Quality of work and delivery: People put their hearts into the work and the result is high quality of work and timely execution. Committed individuals and the team practice self-supervision and ensure quality delivery.
(d) Better image of the function: Such enthusiasm is infectious and slowly rubs off on people they come in contact with. People from other functions love to engage with them and the image of the IT department is thus enhanced.
(e) Better connect with the management: When projects are rolled out successfully and the user departments express satisfaction, the message gets carried on to the management. I was in one such situation and the result was that all the further proposals by me got approved quickly and without much questioning (and that made other people envious!?)
(f) Delivery on time: We know most IT projects face hurdles and get delayed. However when right people work in a team, each person pulls his weight and delivers projects on time as the honor of the team is at stake.
(g) Personal bonding: People learn to respect one another and matters like seniority and hierarchy recede to the background. Informal get-togethers and social bonding are not uncommon.
How to build a team
Building the right team is a challenge and to be honest I have been able to build up such a team in only four of the seven organizations I have worked with. Getting the right people on the bus and offloading the wrong ones is easier said than done. Let me deal with this subject in my next article.