Oh I See! Getting CIOs to view their jobs from a different angle

Jan 20 2015   9:29AM GMT

Dear boss, you are fired!

Arun Gupta Arun Gupta Profile: Arun Gupta

Tags:
CIO
Leadership

Call it providence or just plain bad luck or for that matter the CIOs inability to get along with his newly appointed boss, things had just gone down over the last year. Every day was a new battle ground for him to conquer, every discussion was steeped in frustration, and every proposal an uphill task. The CIO gave it all his energy, patience, learning on how to manage difficult situations, advice received from peers and industry veterans to no avail. It did not matter what he did or did not, the relationship failed to bloom.

The CIO had been with the company for some time; he had seen his reporting changed multiple times with increasing dependency on IT creating success. Almost all his managers had taken a hands off approach with deference to his professional expertise. After all he had delivered in difficult times building credibility for his team. Business appreciated the calculated risks taken that brought value to the company operations and efficiency improvements. He was high on professional competency which made people listen to him.

The new boss was intrinsically insecure which made him a loud person always wanting to speak in every meeting, interrupting the flow of thought while attempting to make a point or two; he loved the sound of his own voice and even when none existed, created opportunities to talk about how great he was. His garish attire complimented his personality making him completely malfeasant. Without any qualms about collateral damage, he attempted to demean everyone around him, peers, subordinates and others.

The CIO and his new boss had a great start with the IT team wondering if the CHRO made a mistake or the CEO inadvertently or otherwise overlooked some basic principles while taking a decision to hire. Both were known to be well grounded high professionals; it appeared disturbing that they and the Board disregarded some of the obvious personality flaws while hiring for a senior management role? It was really too much of a coincidence to believe that everyone missed out something so obvious!

The CIO had multiple projects underway with large investments with the best of technologies and partners who were selected with active participation from all stakeholders. As the days progressed everything that was working well and going in the right direction suddenly became a cause for concern. The new boss made mountains out of molehills and at times fabricated problems that were the one in a million exception to process. The screeching grew in crescendo drowning not just IT but even protests of the business owners.

It would appear that he was there to transform the entire business single-handedly and fix the malaise that ailed the company of which there was plenty as he saw and fabricated in all directions. With Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) sown in the minds, the boss proclaimed that the company needed urgent transfusion of high talent and professionals to rescue the sinking ship. As the FUD factor took root, there was a general agreement that if the situation is indeed as bad, the saviors need to be expeditiously on boarded.

They came in droves and spread across the enterprise into every function; past nonexistent or minor accomplishments embellished with superlatives made the new team superheroes. They were showered with disparagingly high benefits to the chagrin of the existing teams who had no recourse having been labeled incompetent and responsible for the current situation. Soon the place was infested across layers with people that coincidentally worked in the boss’s previous companies, many of whom had been laid off.

It was evident that there was no reversal likely unless something broke colossally and even then it appeared that the team would get away with massacre. No one was sure of the source of protection they enjoyed, to brazenly get away with non-performance and break the culture that made the company successful. Wild rumors founded or otherwise floated the corridors crushing the already broken will of the people. The CIO after a huge internal struggle decided to let go and find peace of mind outside the jungle of hypocrites.

On another planet in a similar setting the end outcome was quite different; with sliding deliverables the Board woke up and realized that they had let the boss break some of the conventional rules and ethics that govern any company, like mass hiring from past employers. They challenged the boss and set a timeline to deliver to promise with obvious consequences for non-performance. Blaming the past did not hold any more water; he had adequate time and bandwidth to create the change which he had failed to.

Much damage later the inevitable happened: “Dear Boss, you are fired!”

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