How CIOs Can Become Better Collaborators

As with other members of the C-Suite, the role of the CIO is changing. Instead of simply managing the technology side of the business, CIOs are now partnering with other parts of the organization to find ways to improve efficiency and meet key objectives. As part of that process, CIOs must improve cross-departmental collaboration to work well with the members of those teams.

The CIO as Strategic Partner

CIOs have, increasingly, become strategic partners who need to connect closely with other departments within their organizations to improve efficiency across the company.

Rising Technology Needs

Many businesses have key objectives currently in play that require the adoption of new technology solutions. For example, HR departments want to leverage tools like cloud-based human capital management solutions to create a better employee experience and streamline processes. As a result, many of those objectives require support and buy-in from the CIO.

The Importance of Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Digitally transforming an organization requires a great deal of cross-departmental buy-in and participation to be successful. Cross-departmental collaboration often both benefits and involves a wide range of stakeholders. As a result, it's critical that CIOs work effectively with those other departments.

Ways CIOs Can Be Better Collaborators

There are several ways CIOs can improve their collaborative efforts.

Highlight Business Values

CIOs may need to start by highlighting the business values that guide their decisions. When they make decisions about the latest technology or tools, they may want to carefully consider how those fall in line with the business's values. For example, if the business values sustainability, those technology solutions may need to somehow support those sustainability goals.

Understand Team Members' Capabilities

As part of their cross-departmental collaboration efforts, CIOs need to make sure that they have a solid understanding of their team members' capabilities. That may mean knowing what hard and soft skills their team members have as well as having a good idea of how long it might actually take to roll out a new technology solution or what might be involved in that process. Understanding team members' capabilities can also make it easier for CIOs to choose solutions or design processes that fit employees' needs across the business.

Maintain Two-Way Communication

For collaboration to be effective, communication can't be just top-down; collaboration involves two-way communication. In the case of CIOs, it may involve multi-faceted communication streams, including ensuring that team members are able to communicate their concerns and that members of both departments have the opportunity to share their unique considerations.

Get to Know Other Departments

It is often tempting for CIOs to focus heavily on the tech department of the organization. When encouraging cross-departmental collaboration across the organization, however, it's equally important for CIOs to take other departments into consideration. They may need to check out HR, marketing, the finance department, or other key areas, which can provide them with deeper insights into the overall functionality of the company and the tools they need to use on a regular basis. Effective CIOs have a good understanding of what those departments need and take them into consideration when making decisions, especially when it comes to new tools and options.

Use the Right Tools

There are a lot of popular tools that can help encourage communication across both individual departments and multiple departments. Slack, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams all allow enhanced communication options that can make it much easier for members of different departments to connect with one another. Those collaborative tools can also help CIOs keep their eye on the overall pulse of the organization. When they pay attention to those topics of conversation and the things that come up most often on those channels, they may get a better overall feel for how employees really feel about many of the issues they face every day.

Know What's Going On

To be effective collaborators, CIOs need to have a solid understanding of what is actually happening across the organization. They should regularly ask things like:

  • What projects are various departments working on?
  • What tools do those departments need to complete their job tasks effectively?
  • What challenges do those departments face?

CIOs who know their organizations and employees and the challenges that they face are often in a better position to ensure that they have the right tools. They can also prioritize rollouts and communications accordingly.

Plan for the Future

CIOs need to have their fingers on the overall pulse of the organization and a solid plan that will help them move toward the future. They may take into consideration:

  • Where the organization is going, including what steps it will need to take to grow effectively
  • What challenges the organization is likely to face in the near future, including potential growing pains or issues that the CIO can predict
  • What tools will help improve overall functionality or address those challenges

By preparing ahead of time for what the future might look like, CIOs often find themselves in a better position to answer questions or provide solutions as those challenges crop up.

Become a More Effective Collaborator

Collaboration can make a huge difference for many CIOs, establishing them as critical parts of the organization and enabling them to propel their organizations forward into the future. Check out our resources to learn more about effective cross-departmental collaboration or contact us to learn more about how we can help enhance collaboration across your team.

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