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“Social Organizations and Core Competencies” Please respond to the following:Investigate the importance of effective change leadership in
relation to an organization’s adoption of social media initiatives.
Next, suggest two (2) ethical issues that a CIO may encounter when
implementing social media initiatives. Propose (1) strategy for
addressing each identified issue. Provide a rationale for your response.Select three (3) of the twelve (12) core competencies for IT
professionals from Chapter 14 of the Roberts text. Rank each one (1)
according to its importance for IT professionals to possess in order to
develop their careers and compete in the job market. Justify your
ranking.
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Chapter 14
Moving IT up the Maturity Curve: IT Talent Management
As we’ve discussed throughout this book, IT is undergoing a transformation that is shaking the very
foundation of the profession—for the better. At forward-thinking companies, IT departments are
evolving from business back offices to client-facing organizations that are an inextricable part of moving
the business forward. As one business executive–turned–CIO recently shared with me, “This CIO
business is not for sissies!” Rising expectations are emanating from a host of constituents: the C-suite,
boards of directors, increasingly tech-savvy customers, regulators, and a competitive global market. IT
leaders are now expected to manage IT with speed and agility, adapt to an always changing
environment, and turn vast amounts of data into meaningful analytics that will help to hone an edge in
an increasingly competitive marketplace. Undermining all this is a growing skill gap. According to recent
research by Accenture, 55 percent of IT workers are under pressure to develop additional skills to
succeed in their current and future roles. However, only 21 percent have acquired new skills through
formal, company-provided training in the past five years. Clearly, it’s time for IT leaders to put an IT
talent management strategy in place that helps people develop the skills and competencies that meet
the new demands that are placed on IT. To find out what those skills and competencies are, I recently
embarked on a research project, traveling around the country and meeting with CIOs to invite their
perspectives on what is necessary to develop a high-performing IT organization. The answer I heard
again and again was professional skills.
CIO after CIO emphasized the need for IT professionals who can listen to the business and translate
what they hear into innovative solutions. They said it was crucial for IT leaders to possess a deep
understanding of the business strategy and the key drivers to propel growth. And they said they were
seeking highly engaged employees who are adept at collaborating with others and working on teams.
These CIOs essentially described the consultative advisors characterized in this book, who understand
both technology and the business and who speak and think predominantly in the language of business,
not the language of technology.
When the CIOs were finished describing the IT leader of the future, they offered a caveat: “This is not
just about the IT leader of the future; if we don’t get these skills right today, we’re not going to have a
future.”
By the time I finished my research trip, I had compiled a list of 12 core competencies that CIOs said were
paramount to performing in today’s complex and fast-changing business environment (see Figure 14.1).
When I shared them with the CIOs I’d visited, they began using the list to help their people understand
the new expectations that are being placed on them. By helping IT professionals assess themselves
according to these core competencies and their associated behaviors, these CIOs have begun the
journey of building the IT workforce of the twenty-first century and transforming their culture.
Figure 14.1 The 12 Core Competencies
Gaining a Core Competency Mind-Set
Technology skills are important; they are still the ticket that gets you in the door. But the 12 core
competencies are what will enable IT professionals to develop their careers—and in some cases remain
in their jobs. I say this because I once shared this list of competencies with a senior IT leadership team at
a global organization that is listed on the Fortune 100 year after year. Our 12 core IT competencies,
these leaders told me, were very familiar; in fact, they had recently developed a similar list. But they
were clearly not as excited as I was to realize how much we agreed, and I soon found out why. The list,
they told me, identified the attributes of employees the company intended to keep during an impending
layoff. Although this company tended to hire for technical skills, when it was time to let people go, it
protected people with skills on the list of the core competencies. It was glaringly obvious to these
leaders at this point that they had missed a great opportunity—both for their business and the IT
employees—by not communicating the importance of these competencies earlier. At this stage, it was
too late for many of their IT employees to develop these skills through training and stretch assignments.
The lesson was learned by this company: If we judge employees on the 12 IT core competencies during
layoffs, we have a moral, if not business, obligation to embed these criteria in the hiring process,
communicating our expectations from day one and helping the entire IT workforce gain these
professional skills throughout their careers. And I do mean the entire IT workforce. Companies that are
truly transforming their IT workforces are holding people accountable for these competencies
throughout the organization. At first glance, some of these 12 skills may seem to apply only to the top
rungs of the IT hierarchy. However, even the competency of leadership is not unique to the executive
team; rather, everyone in IT needs to take ownership of this competency and apply it to his or her
unique role. Although an analyst newly hired out of college is not expected to exhibit the leadership
skills of a CIO with 30 years’ experience, gaining leadership skills should be on his or her career
development radar. After all, as IT professionals progress in their careers, leadership skills will play an
increasingly important role. By communicating the increasing expectations of these core IT skills, IT
leaders can help entry-level IT analysts begin to develop the skill set to meet their career goals—and the
business’s needs. Beyond communicating the need for the 12 IT core competencies, the best IT
organizations are also empowering their employees to drive their own careers and professional
development. In the old paradigm, employees waited for their managers to send them to training, but
the new-generation workforce is not so patient. If the employees are not working in an environment
and culture that values continuous learning and supports their personal development, they will be quick
to look for a new opportunity. After all, the only real job security for IT workers is the continual
relevancy and demand for their skills. And by removing obstacles and empowering their employees, IT
leaders are unleashing IT professionals’ natural desire to improve their skills, achieve their career goals,
and remain relevant in the industry.
Moving up the IT Maturity Curve
When CIOs successfully engage their organizations in a core competency mind-set, they can begin
moving up the IT maturity curve (see Figure 14.2) and transform their organizations from tactical to
strategic. According to the CIO Executive Council, the world of IT is divided into tactical and strategic
organizations. In tactical organizations, the leadership team’s prevailing business relationship with
stakeholders is that of a cost center or credible service provider, and its predominant focus is internal. In
strategic organizations, the leadership team is seen as a trusted, influential partner by business
stakeholders, and its predominant focus is external. Figure 14.2 IT Maturity Curve Which of these camps
do you fall into? Strategic organizations—what we call twenty-first-century IT—are proactive about
anticipating business needs and coming up with solutions, whereas tactical organizations (old IT) are
reactive order takers (see Figure 14.3). Twenty-first-century IT acts as a unified team and focuses on
business results, but old IT is siloed into functional groups and focuses on keeping the lights on. Figure
14.3 Twenty-First-Century IT It might be worthwhile to discuss the IT maturity curve and the CIO
Executive Council’s findings at your next IT leadership team meeting. Is your organization performing
consistently as a stage 3 strategic partner? If so, how do you maintain this enviable position, knowing
that the bar is always moving higher? If not, what is your strategy for moving your organization up the
curve, knowing it will result in higher levels of trust and credibility as well as greater opportunities to be
an influential strategic partner?
Talent Management 2.0
Best-of-breed organizations are exposing their people to the new competencies that will help them
remain relevant, increasing their engagement with the business and moving them up the maturity curve
in order to deliver greater value to the business. In order to begin this transformation, IT leaders need to
change their approach to attracting, assessing, retaining, developing, engaging, and motivating their
twenty-first-century workforce. To do this, they can no longer rely on corporate-wide initiatives driven
by human resources. Achieving transformation and becoming a strategic partner requires a focused
effort that aligns with the unique needs of IT and responds to the urgency of helping a technologyoriented workforce quickly evolve into consultative business advisors. Applying generic human
resources approaches to IT—which is undergoing a transformation like no other business function—
would be like driving a screw with a hammer. The particular talent management strategies of IT to be
considered include:
Increasing speed and agility.
In today’s fast-paced, ever changing and increasingly complex business environment, a competitive edge
cannot be honed without some sort of technology component. In fact, technology is often at the heart
of attracting new customers, keeping current ones, and responding to or anticipating new business
opportunities. Such windows of opportunity can be short-lived, and IT needs the ability to quickly
respond to, if not actively suggest, technology-driven innovation. This requires an agile, almost just-intime, talent management capability that has the capacity to assemble highly skilled teams that can
collaborate with the business to rapidly design and deploy innovation. Whereas in the past IT was much
more command-and-control, with top-down directives, new IT teams are much more akin to a Delta
Force or special operations unit capable of assessing opportunities quickly and deploying solutions at
the speed of business today. IT leaders need a mechanism that anticipates future business and
technology trends and develops the necessary talent to drive innovation. If IT cannot deliver on this
promise, the business will simply go around IT and cut it out entirely. In fact, I’m already seeing this at
organizations that are falling behind. Functions like marketing, finance, and sales are working directly
with vendors to deploy solutions, informing IT only after the fact. We all know this is a recipe for longterm disaster, but we can certainly empathize with a business leader who is frustrated by the pace of
innovation from in-house IT.
Moving from a corporate ladder to a corporate lattice.
In the past, when ambitious employees wanted to further their careers, they could only move up the
corporate hierarchy. If workers did not think they were moving up fast enough, they would naturally
seek new opportunities elsewhere. All too often, the best people were promoted to management roles
only to see their teams flounder. Today, particularly in IT, the traditional model of a career ladder is
changing into a career lattice. Rather than motivating people to eye the corner office, IT organizations
need to encourage their employees to develop cross-functional skills and move horizontally into new
roles. Even the most ambitious professionals can be fulfilled in their careers by continually learning and
developing new skills, even without being offered a traditional promotion. IT professionals who follow
this lattice approach are more valuable to the organization, since they gain new perspectives and
understanding of how the business works and make connections with people outside IT. To enable this
type of horizontal movement, employees need to see the available opportunities, which skills are
needed, how their own skills match up, and how to fill any gaps. It is also critical to engender a culture
that supports rotational assignments and values employees with diverse experiences and perspectives.
Enabling independence.
Particularly for tech-savvy members of the workforce, it is an increasingly old-fashioned idea to wait
around for the organization to offer personal and career development opportunities. With webinars,
online boot camps, blogs, and discussion forums at their fingertips, IT professionals no longer need to
wait for the organization to train them—they just do it themselves. This thinking is becoming embedded
into career management, along with the idea of driving your own career and not waiting for the
organization to tell you what’s next. Employees will increasingly want to work for companies that offer
not only opportunities for professional growth but also tools that help them proceed along the path to
those opportunities. IT professionals who can visualize a future path at their organizations will be more
motivated and passionate about the results of their work and are much more likely to stay when
headhunters start calling.
Increasing engagement
Companies that survey their employees on their level of engagement often find the lowest levels in the
IT organization. This situation can be changed by helping IT employees understand where they fit into
the larger picture and how they align with the mission of the business, whether it’s curing cancer or
selling fair-trade coffee. Engagement happens when people believe they have a role in something that’s
bigger than themselves. IT leaders can play a large role in helping their staffs see the connection
between day-to-day IT activities and the transformative mission of the organization. When IT is aligned
and integrated with the business, IT employees are naturally more motivated and engaged. They can see
the direct effects of their actions, and they work harder and more efficiently to solve problems and
deliver results.
A Look at the Best of the Best
What IT talent management strategies are being employed by today’s best companies? We are finding a
number of best practices that are facilitating more and better quality interactions regarding personal
and career development. In my work with leading companies, I have found the best practices described
below to be in place.
Best Practice 1: Enable Career Journey Interactions
When IT leaders begin the work of skill development and transformation, there can never be too much
communication. Think again of the company that hired people for their technology skills, only to let
them go when they didn’t exhibit the types of skills on the list of 12 core competencies. These
professionals may never realize where they fell short. It’s just as important to communicate the skills
that are vital to your organization ahead of time as it is to provide the mechanism for helping people
develop these skills. Everyone on the team also has to understand how these competencies relate to the
vision, values, and principles of the company itself. When people understand why the skills are critical
and how they relate to the business strategy, they are more likely to embrace the transformation. It’s
also helpful to remember that communication is a two-way street. As important as it is to communicate
the vision and articulate the skills required to achieve the vision, it’s equally important to listen to
employees and seek to understand their perspectives. No one has all the answers, and the best ideas
are not in the research and development (R&D) lab; rather, they emerge from the people who are
running the businesses and who are closest to the customers. As a leader, you set the tone for your
organization, and if you lead by example and practice the art of listening, your people will do the same.
Listening creates trust, a fundamental condition for an innovative culture.
Best Practice 2: Assess Core IT Competencies
IT leaders naturally want to know where their organizations stand in relation to the 12 core IT
competencies. By assessing at the individual level and compiling the data into an organization-wide
report, you begin to see organizational strengths and areas for improvement. One tool for assessing the
12 core competencies is the IT Skill Builder, a cloud-based application that assesses individual skills,
identifies skill gaps, makes targeted recommendations for improvement, and helps employees build a
career development plan. I encourage you to take the IT Skill Builder assessment to see where you can
focus your personal development in the next six months. The instructions for accessing your personal
free trial of IT Skill Builder can be found at the end of this chapter. Regardless of whether you use IT Skill
Builder or your own homegrown assessment, it is important that every IT professional has a clear
understanding of his or her personal strengths and areas for improvement. Organizational
transformation is actually the sum of many individual transformations in which the employees are
gaining the skills and knowledge to be strategic advisors to the business.
Best Practice 3: Help Employees Create Career Development Plans
Employees, especially in IT, increasingly expect to chart their own course when it comes to their career
development. But they cannot actually do this on their own. By helping IT professionals articulate their
goals—and then providing them with the tools, resources, guidance, and support to proceed along the
path toward that vision—IT leaders can ensure that their employees’ career trajectories align with the
organization’s transformation goals. Of course, all too often, employee development is the first thing to
go when IT managers have to prioritize how to spend their time. Increasingly, IT leaders will need to link
the results of their employees’ skill assessments with a portal of training resources geared toward
raising mastery levels. Ideally, IT professionals will be able to see not only which skills and competencies
they need to meet their goals but also what tips, suggestions, and advice help them fill any gaps. The
resource portal could also point to specific books, blogs, videos, activities, workshops, and other
materials and even include social media features, such as networking capabilities, the ability to “like” or
comment on particular resources, or a trending feature that highlights popular materials. Skills
assessments and development plans can also help time-constrained IT managers engage more
effectively with their direct reports by providing them with a framework for discussion. By using the
concrete insights gleaned from the skills assessment and resource guide, both managers and employees
can better discuss specific development goals and activities to complete, as well as engage in otherwise
difficult conversations about overcoming weaknesses.
Best Practice 4: Identify Organization-Wide Skill Gaps
In order to plan for the future, you must understand where the IT organization stands today in relation
to the IT core competencies. One effective tool I’ve used is the Talent Heat Map, a visual display of the
skill gaps for critical IT roles. The IT Talent Heat Map provides CIOs and IT leadership teams with unique
perspectives into their organizations so that they can identify strengths, skills gaps, and specific training
needs. When you have limited time and resources, it’s more vital than ever to apply a rifle, not a
shotgun, approach to addressing specific training needs. IT managers need to know exactly which skill
areas are most important to prioritize because they will provide the best return on investment. By
collecting data about the entire organization’s skill levels and comparing that with where they need to
be, IT leaders ca …
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