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5 Things that a CIO Should Never Accept in the IT Department
By Jim Anderson

CIOs need to make sure that their IT department is a smoothly running machine. There are many different things that they can do in order to make sure that this happens. Hiring the right employees is a great way to start. Taking steps to keep employee moral high and ensuring that employees are motivated are both important. However, as the person with the CIO job, you need to also know what kind of things that you need to make sure are not present in your IT department.

  1. Dishonesty

    Although I would suspect that most people would describe themselves as being an honest person, all too often we discover that this is not always the case. If you discover that members of your IT department are dishonest and struggle to tell the truth, then can you really afford to have them on your team? You won’t be able to trust them to accurately communicate with either you or the rest of their team. Their dishonesty can end up imposing a false reality on both their life and the people that they end up working with.

  2. Boredom

    Bored employees will not be productive employees. Your most successful employees will be the ones who are constantly exploring something new. Employees who are not seeking out new experiences and knowledge are the ones who will be unable to change as the IT department grows and changes. Bored employees will not be willing to lead projects, investigate problems, or help customers. These are not people that you want to have on your team.

  3. Mediocrity

    If the people in your IT department are not striving to improve both themselves and their job performance, then their results will start to show it. If they are willing to live with “good enough” then the IT department is quickly going to gain a reputation for being slow to respond to customer needs and for delivering solutions that are late and don’t perform to customer expectations. The overall value of the IT department will go down in the eyes of your customers and their willingness to fund the IT department will decrease.

  4. Negativity

    The one thing that you don’t want to hear in your department as the person in the CIO position are phrases like “that won’t work here” or “that’s not how we do things”. Negativity is very much like a heavy weight that can easily spread from one employee to another. Negativity causes innovation to slowly start to die and will result in employees not being willing to take on additional work. Complaining takes away from the work that needs to be done and does not help to find solutions to the problems and challenges that the IT department is facing.

  5. Toxicity

    Some people bring a toxic environment along with them. The result of this is that when other people are asked to work with them, they develop a feeling of dread and they start to feel tired. There is just something about these people that makes others actively not want to work with them. You simply cannot afford to have them as a part of your IT department because of the negative impact that they will have on the department’s productivity.

What all of this means for you

When a chef is at work in a kitchen creating great meals, it’s the ingredients that he or she chooses to use that will have a lasting impact on the quality of the food that they can prepare. As a CIO, you are responsible for creating IT solutions that can power the entire company. You’ll do this using the staff that you have in your IT department. This means that you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have any rotten apples in your kitchen.

The quality of the workers that you have will have a big impact on the quality of the product that you’ll be able to produce. They may be able to produce good code, but just as importantly a worker’s personality can have an impact on the entire department. You are going to want to make sure that your IT department does not have any dishonesty, boredom, mediocrity, negativity, or toxicity.

In the end it’s all pretty simple. As the CIO you are going to have to know who you have working for you. You need to make sure that your people have the positive characteristics that you need and that they don’t have the negative characteristics that can kill a department. Keep your eyes open and make sure that you’ve got the good people and not the bad ones.

Jim Anderson has been a product manger at small start-ups as well as at some of the world’s largest IT shops. Dr. Anderson realizes that for a product to be successful, it takes an entire company working together. You can learn more about Dr. Anderson on his website, You can subscribe to his newsletter here.

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