Three Ways CIOs Are Tackling Talent Shortages
Written by Nick Turner
VP Information Technology
NIHR Clinical Research
Director of Information Technology
George Best Belfast City Airport
Talent is the lifeblood of any successful organisation, but finding (and keeping) the right people in critical roles is no easy task. This challenge isn’t new, but the drive for digital business acceleration caused by recent global events has exacerbated the need to diversify talent pools and, in many cases, upskill the talent that’s already in IT teams.
For CIOs, fostering IT leaders and teams that are set up for constant change is critical. With the right talent and digital capabilities, organisations can accelerate digital business. However, the competition for scarce digital talent throughout industries and geographies has increased. This means that CIOs are now up against wage inflation and global competition.
According to a recent Gartner survey, IT executives cited talent availability as the main adoption risk factor for the majority of IT automation technologies (75%) and nearly half of digital workplace technologies (41%). This demonstrates the importance CIOs must place on attracting and nurturing top talent.
Enhance your Value Proposition
A recent Gartner article suggests that CIOs should create an employment value proposition (EVP) tailored to attract and retain top IT talent. IT Leaders should ensure that job postings clearly articulate attributes that differentiate their IT organisation’s brand values from those of their competitors. Finding the right talent is clearly a top priority when looking to drive the digital agenda forward, and a lack thereof causes underperformance in digital business investments and initiatives. This is a clear mandate for the CIO to enhance their value proposition when attracting top talent externally.
“With labour market shortages, CIOs need to attract a broader mix of capabilities from a bigger and much more diverse talent pool,” says Samantha Liscio, CITO at the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
“For me, this means creating roles that are attractive because they offer a degree of flexibility (e.g. work location, working hours) and have real impact. IT staff in the Clinical Research Network have helped create registries that track vaccine research participants, which assists in our fight against COVID! Ensuring candidates understand that broader value proposition is key,” Liscio adds.
Foster Talent for the Next Generation of IT Leaders
CIOs play an instrumental role in maximising employees’ engagement and their intent to stay with the organisation for the longer term. Setting out clear career paths and giving space for your team to grow and identify their next steps is increasingly important in fostering the next generation of IT leaders.
“Enabling colleagues to grow their skills and move on to the next step in their career is one of the best bits of my job!” explains Tracey Jessup, CDIO at UK Parliament. “This ranges from ensuring we have formalised learning and clear expectations of skills and competences for job roles to wider learning fluency.”
Jessup adds that “one thing we have introduced during the pandemic is a line managers’ peer support forum. This has been hugely popular and allows people to brush up on their leadership, hear from inspirational speakers, and also share and get help with real time issues they are facing.”
IT leaders know that skilled technology professionals are hard to find. As such, it has become increasingly important to foster talent from within the organisation, and to ensure that development opportunities and collaboration are at the forefront.
As Brian Roche, Director of Information Technology at George Best Belfast City Airport explains,
“An important part of leadership is around mentorship. Team members want to grow in ability whilst delivering on their business objectives.
“A collaborative and inclusive decision-making process is what works for me as it has been proven time and time again that when individuals feel valued, their performances increase which in turn adds value to the business.”
Roche goes on to explain:
“We have a mantra on how to prioritise projects and activities. That mantra is ‘does it make the boat go faster?’ Will it help the team and business meet the required objectives to drive the business through recovery and growth? If everyone is motoring in the same direction, we are all going places.”
Partner with the Wider Business to Address Talent Gaps
Building trust and transparency between IT and key business partners is an important process when closing the digital skills gaps within your organisation. CIOs have gained newfound influence and leadership in recent times, and this should be used to partner with key business units to accelerate recruiting and digital business initiatives.
“It’s important to work closely with the regional leadership around talent and organisational development,” says Sergio Guerreiro, Vice President of Information Technology at Allegion International. “This way, you can ensure you are supporting specific capability developments for the region.” Guerreiro adds that “increased collaboration and alignment with other functions, such as Engineering teams, is key when it comes to ensuring IT is aligned with overall hiring goals and targets.”
The need to create a highly skilled, diverse workforce is obviously key to staying competitive in a time where large organisations are ramping up digital business initiatives. This makes IT alignment with the business all the more critical.
“IT needs to stand with the business in committing to diversity and inclusion,” adds Samantha Liscio of NIHR. “This might mean looking beyond technical capabilities and seeking out IT candidates with additional strengths in things like relationship building and stress management. We must also widen the net, better leveraging the talent we already have, and committing to broader inclusion and removal of any biases in our hiring processes.”
Special thanks to all participating companies.
by CIOs, for CIOs
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