Can an IT executive find true love in their job? As Valentine's Day approaches, The Enterprisers Project surveyed a number of top IT executives and found that when the right person and personality meet the right IT job, love really can result. Ensuring that the attraction stays strong takes work, however, and it's not unlike the work we do to keep our personal relationships flourishing every day. Here are a few pointers from our Enterprisers.
Build from a foundation of trust
When Lisa Davis, CIO of Georgetown University, stepped into her role, “there was a perception that IT didn't meet our needs or IT didn't understand what needed to occur to support the research and academic missions.” That's why her first order of business was to understand the people who relied on IT's services, and to build their trust. “You have to understand what your stakeholders need,” she says. “How can technology help enable their business and get their jobs done? How does technology make their jobs easier? You've got to have to have the faculty, the staff, the students and the administration start believing in what you're doing. So start by building that foundation of trust. I believe you establish credibility by doing what you say you are going to do and executing on the strategy that you put in place so you're ultimately meeting their needs."
Earn (and keep) respect
A healthy relationship with one's job can't thrive without respect, as tradeMONSTER CTO Sanjib Sahoo explains. “A CIO has to connect with their own team, not just as an innovator but as someone that knows what’s going on. Connect with stakeholders. Connect with peers. Make everyone dream the same dream. Create a brand image of you which is much more beneficial in your life. Write something. Blog something. If the industry accepts you, your stakeholders will accept you.”
Don't let work become too routine
“My life would be fully complete without doing another email or desktop upgrade,” says Peter Weis, CIO of Matson Navigation, a $1.6 billion public shipping carrier focused on the U.S. Pacific. Yet Weis believes that any IT leader can find meaning in their work, reshape their role and “see better results.” For Weis, meaningful moments come when he takes on projects that others say can’t be done – and drives them to successful completion. He also loves brokering new deals to shake up the routine. If there’s meaning behind the work you do, according to Weis, then you won’t rely on your annual vacation for respite. “Two weeks in Maui doesn’t make up for the rest of the year,” he says.
Use variety to keep the relationship healthy
Cliff Tamplin, a consultant and Former VP of Technology Support & Risk Management at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, notes that a steady diet of variety makes any IT career more enjoyable. “I’m very fortunate that whether I wanted to or not, the company has always moved me between different roles,” he says. “But I always try to create that opportunity for people to move out of my departments and to bring people in from outside those departments, so people will stay fresh.”
Spread the love
Cynthia Stoddard, CIO at data storage leader NetApp, notes that mentoring others keeps her job satisfaction high – in part because she is helping others to excel and love their jobs. “People I talk to are always surprised at how willing people are to act as mentors and how much they have to offer,” she says. “That’s never a surprise to me. I’ve looked to mentors who can help me broaden my skills and knowledge wherever I am. I’ve done almost every job in IT, and I think that allows me to connect better to IT professionals that are part of my organization as well as those outside. I’ve also found mentors across industries, from previous roles in insurance, transportation, logistics and retail; all of which have given me a great perspective for business that I can use to help people with their knowledge and career. It’s a journey that continues to this day, and one every IT professional should undertake.”
What is the upshot of all this good feeling about work? Higher profitability, for one thing. According to a recent New York Times story, a 2012 global work force study of 32,000 employees found that companies with the highest number of “sustainably engaged employees” enjoyed operating margins nearly three times those with the lowest engagement scores. As the saying goes, do what you love and you'll love what you do.