CIOs don't like dealing with personnel and skills issues

CIOs don't like dealing with personnel and skills issues

Personnel/workforce issues one of the top “hates” for CIOs in their roles

Managing IT staff and their skills is a key part of a CIO's role, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy doing it. Gartner's latest survey reveals this is one of the top “hates” for CIOs in their job.

Gartner asked 876 respondents from around the world, including Australia, what they disliked most about their job with personnel/workforce [management] being in the top of the list, which follows on from the usual things that make a job painful – bureaucracy, politics and stress/pressure.

Meanwhile, CIOs liked taking leadership, making an impact on business outcomes, being a change agent and innovating.

“Perhaps this is why so many CIOs identify talent as a crisis,” Gartner wrote in its research report.

Gartner also asked 555 respondents about their top barrier to success. Just over one-fifth (22 per cent) stated skills and resources, which was the largest percentage.

Further, 66 per cent of 974 CIOs surveyed said the skills issue is reaching crisis levels. Forty per cent of 937 CIOs surveyed are experiencing a talent gap in information/analytics. When it comes to IT investment, BI/analytics is a top priority for spending in 2016 for 39 per cent of more than 2000 CIOs surveyed.

Digitisation/marketing has the biggest jump in investment, rising from only 17 per cent of CIOs who made it a top investment priority in 2015 to 21 per cent in 2016.

Gartner interviewed Jing Wang, senior vice president in charge of technology at Baidu, on his approach to managing personnel. The Chinese search giant allows technical staff to “choose their managers”, as opposed to managers choosing which personnel will work on which projects.

This ensures staff are not only working on projects they have a strong interest in and are passionate about but also helps them stretch their skills by working on new things, which helps close any major skill gaps over time.

“Giving them choice embodies our respect for our technical personnel,” Wang said. “Letting them do what is interesting to them, and what they like, maximises their work output and strengthens communication between teams and individuals inside the organisation.

“It also prevents burying the wisdom of talented technical personnel because of managers’ prejudices,” he said.

For managers, instead of being “talent owners”, their role is to facilitate talent so that there’s flexibility for a worker to move beyond the set tasks of their role and ensure the company is best using all of its human resources.

Wang added this model mostly works for staff working on technology R&D, rather than operations, or sales or marketing.

Wang said managers sometimes tend to get caught up in bureaucracy and focus on official positions, which the company is trying to change.

“We need to do a lot of work with the managers. They need some time to break the ‘losing face’ barrier.”

This model had resulted in more staff willing to work harder, make greater contributions and to stay with the company for longer, according to Baidu’s annual human capital index (HCI) survey.

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