Newly-appointed CIOs Need More Time To Be Effective!

by CXOtoday News Desk    Feb 04, 2014

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The CIO’s role may have evolved from what it used to be a decade ago, but a new study reveals that many of them are not given sufficient time to fully take control of their role when they come on board.

The report titled ‘How Newly Appointed Chief Information Officers (CIOs) Take Charge‘ suggests while these IT leaders have average tenures like any other executive role in the organization, the involuntary job termination is 23% higher than other CXOs.

Too much expected from the CIO

Anthony B. Gerth and Joe Peppard, authors of the report believe that this gap remains because too much is expected of the new CIO. The researchers from European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and Kelley School of Business at Indiana University state that: “You need to give the new CIOs two to three years to have an impact.”

They estimate a minimum of 9-12 months to be given to the CIO to take complete charge of their role. “Ironically, they’re not given the time to be effective,” say the authors stating that tech leaders have to spend the first few months just looking at the business and understanding the culture. It is only after a few months that he masters the assignment of a new role.

The authors refer to this as the three phases. While phase one or the Entry phase he just gets to know the business and IT-related problems, the second phase is marked by stabilization, where he is expected to take corrective action and build the IT leadership team. In the third or renewal phase, CIOs build on their credibility to implement changes that position them as legitimate business leaders.

Each of these phases takes a minimum of 90 days to complete. However, organizations expect CIOs to gain mastery in the entry phase itself. This is when CIOs find their new role extremely challenging, according to the authors.

Knowing your transition type

The report makes certain recommendations to help newly-appointed CIOs. “Be prepared for surprises, even after due diligence, as things may be worse than expected,” say the report. The authors also suggest that CIOs should try not to implement change too quickly. That’s because what worked in a previous company may not work in the new place.

The authors emphasize that CIOs should know their transition type to make things easier and can help CIOs take charge more effectively. The report identifies four types of transition, comprising start-up, turnaround (getting a troubled IT organization back on track), realignment (revitalizing an IT department that is undergoing crisis) and success-sustaining (preserving a successful IT organization and taking it to the next level).

The type of transition was the most influential factor in how CIOs took charge, the report said, affecting the intensity of the three phases of the learning process, though not the phases and the associated timeline themselves. It even led businesses to choose their next CIO from different sources, for example, those requiring a leader for a turnaround or realignment were more likely to hire outsiders, while those looking for success sustaining looked at insiders and outsiders almost equally.

The work in the new environment also requires a fresh approach and as a result CIOs should try and leave their past behind, according to the study.