CIOs should look for the 3 C's: character, collaboration and competence

CIOs should look for the 3 C's: character, collaboration and competence

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June 26, 2014
CIO Outsource IT Infrastructure

IT employees are more motivated when they understand how their work contributes to the company says John McGregor, CTO of Kronos Inc.

The Enterprisers Project (TEP): Your goal is for IT staff to be passionate about their work. How do you make that happen?

McGregor: We look for people with the technical skills to fit the role, but it is important that they work in a way that supports our culture. When we hire Kronites (what we call our employees), we specifically look for three C’s: character, collaboration, and competence. Additionally, we foster an environment where individuals are valued and we have a heavy emphasis on collaboration. We inspire each other and get inspired by the work we do. Kronites are encouraged to bring their passion to work because it makes them who they are.

We also want our employees to know the contribution they are making to the company. We do that in several ways.

First, our executive team publishes high-level company goals each year and we tie our IT goals to them. We then tie each IT project to an IT goal and to a company goal. Further still, we make sure that Kronites understand how each of their tasks connects to the business. I call it “Line of Sight”. I ask them to think about: “How does what you’re working on connect to our business? What value does it have? Do you know? If not, ask your manager.” They like to know that what they do is appreciated and valued. Working this way helps us with everything we do.

At Kronos, we are very passionate about developing our employees and helping them build their skill set. We offer training programs and it is mandatory that all managers work with their employees to achieve specific developmental goals each year.

In addition to providing employees with training and development to keep them passionate about their work, we also pay attention to passions outside of the cubicle. For example, we have a committee that organizes events that brings employees together outside of the office. Health and wellness are also a part of the equation. I, myself, play basketball with my fellow Kronites when I need a break.

TEP: What are the benefits to Kronos of having a passionate IT staff?

McGregor: We’re more productive. A conversation about how we’ll make something work is much more enjoyable and productive than one focused on roadblocks and reasons why something can’t be done. When employees feel good about their company and their jobs, the energy they bring to everything lifts the whole environment. It’s contagious and it leads to much higher productivity levels.

We believe in a partnership between Kronos and employees. Kronos provides employees with access to top talent and a great (award-winning!) working environment, the opportunity for professional development, and rewards for performance. In turn, employees are encouraged to deliver results on strategic objectives, demonstrate our core values, and continually seek development opportunities. Our employees are our greatest asset and this is the reason for our success. We fuel their passion and they give us their best.

TEP: What makes your company’s IT employees passionate about Kronos?

McGregor: Many factors, including our company’s rapid growth, are a motivator. Kronos is the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud and we have a 36-year history of consistent innovation and success. This year, we’ll surpass $1 billion in revenue. Our continued growth provides great opportunities for our employees in the form of new systems, processes, technologies, education, and training. Additionally, we foster an environment where individuals are valued and we have a heavy emphasis on collaboration. We inspire each other and get inspired by the work we do. Kronites are encouraged to bring their passion to work because it makes them who they are.

TEP: Technology work is known for having very long hours. Are there ways to mitigate the burnout effect on staff?

McGregor: We strongly believe in a flexible work environment and we communicate to employees that their family comes first. This sentiment comes from our CEO and he regularly encourages employees to go to their kids’ soccer games or tend to family matters. We take our work very seriously and put in the hours to get the job done, but Kronites find it comforting to know that they are supported and we can be flexible. Open communication and a strong collaborative environment lessen the burden. We’re like a big family. We also offer telecommuting and schedule flexibility, so employees can find times that work best for them and their families.

TEP: What advice would you pass along?

McGregor: The most successful CIOs make open communication a priority and drive that through the entire management team and to every employee. Breaking down silos and fostering an environment of collaboration is essential for ongoing success.

John McGregor is CIO of Kronos Inc., a leading provider of workforce management solutions.

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Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and columnist for Inc.com. She is co-author of "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," as well as several other books. She lives in Snohomish, Washington. Find her at www.mindazetlin.com.  

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