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The role of a CIO has evolved to meet the changing demands of technology and customers.

CIOs have become influential leaders collaborating with marketing, finance and HR departments to drive innovation. This has led to a CIO developing their leadership and communication skills, something organisations have picked up on.

In some organisations, the CIO now acts as a mentor for fellow employees to improve productivity and performance. As CIOs are moving to the forefront of organisations’ business strategies, CIO UK looks at why CIOs should embrace a mentoring scheme and act as a leader of change. (See also: How CIOs can drive behavioural & cultural change in their organisation)

Why CIOs should embrace a mentoring role: Work culture

CIOs should communicate with fellow executives about the employees who need coaching to progress to the next stage of their career path.

In developing a mentoring system, CIOs can observe and train staff to meet the organisation's expectations and employee development.

As technology becomes more aligned with business strategies, 44% of organisations are expecting to increase their digital teams in 2017, according to the Harvey Nash survey.

A mentoring programme will adapt employees' mind-set improving the overall work culture in working to achieve the shared business goal.

Mentoring can encourage teams to communicate, improve their overall cultural performance in the organisation, and CIO Alison Davis uses her previous experience in management and leadership roles to help develop her team at the Francis Crick Institute.

“I am mentoring a junior female manager in my team who has come from a non-IT background and moved into IT,” she said. “I am also improving the culture of the team by organising work on shared behaviours, which was very positively received.”

CIO Davis regularly encourages employees from across all departments to partake in coaching programmes she has created.

“I have organised a social styles workshop for my direct reports and their reports, to help improve the strength and understanding of the management team which can help develop skills in many ways,” she said.

Why CIOs should embrace a mentoring role: Increase confidence

Leading by example and establishing relationships with your team can help increase a CIO’s confidence.

In some organisations, CIOs act as a peer mentor to give employees the opportunity to progress and develop in their careers. Through teaching and advising employees through sharing personal stories and experiences it can act as a general support to staff members in less skilled areas.

While coaching is about sharing particular areas of expertise, skills and knowledge, Brendan O’Rourke of Telefonica 02 has seen his role as CIO increase his confidence and overall job satisfaction.

“I really love helping other people, networking and mentoring is a fantastic way that allows me to do that easily,” he said. "Being able to create that environment for people to learn new skills for the future is not only a great satisfaction for me but also a great opportunity for all likeminded CIOs.”

CIOs should embrace the mentoring role as it can help build relationships with colleagues and have a better understanding of the employee’s needs. (See also: Telefonica 02 UK's CIO moving organisation to cloud for 2017.) 

Why CIOs should embrace a mentoring role: Skill set

CIOs should use their leadership and executive status as a chance to improve their digital team’s skill sets.

Businesses having a CIO mentor in place can set clear goals to achieve, sharpening an employee’s skill sets and experience within the digital industry.

Training junior staff or fellow colleagues through skills workshops and executive observations can add credibility to the digital team. This can get the business ahead of its competitors through professional development.

In house mentoring can save the organisation time and money rather than hiring a coaching expert or skills specialist with a CIO already having a relationship with the employee.

A CIO setting clear goals can improve the employee’s productivity and efficiency in their role while also enabling the organisation to gain credibility in their performance.

Why CIOs should embrace a mentoring role:Wider IT budgets

Mentoring can not only develop skill sets and encourage open communication between colleagues but it can also help spread IT costs further.

Closer collaboration between the CIO and team members can effectively help the business achieve set targets through sharing knowledge and expertise with less experienced employees.

Closer collaboration between the CIO and team members can help the business to achieve its set targets. CIOs should share personal experiences, give advice and tell stories to help less experienced employees excel in their role.

For organisations, investing in business mentoring is a useful and cost-effective way to develop younger talent while also retaining your experienced employees. It can not only build relationships between colleagues but can also drive the cultural and behavioural aspect of the business.

Why CIOs should embrace a mentoring role: Feedback

In some organisations, CIOs who offer feedback can help motivate employees to achieve success in their role.

A mentoring system should not wait for yearly performance reviews to address any issues with employees. CIOs should regularly communicate positive and constructive feedback when necessary.

One-to-one meetings and internal emails are great ways to encourage feedback and a two way communication between the CIO and employee. This can take pressure off the CEO's role in giving feedback if an issue occurred and could be resolved before a progress report is due.

A CIO should address issues such as workload and skills gaps for the employee’s professional development. This can increase an employee’s fulfilment in their role and loyalty to the company.

Mentoring and coaching programmes can develop openness with employees in working towards a set business goal, and CIO Mark Bramwell has used his executive title to encourage feedback in his team to improve customer satisfaction.

Said Business School uses a SMART system, a strategy undertaken by CIO Bramwell, which can lead employees to help achieve their set goals.

“In nine months the performance, results delivery and credibility of the digital team have changed significantly at the school,” he said. “I regularly receive positive customer feedback with right first-time project delivering already enhancing the overall customer service.”

The SMART system has seen CIO Bramwell and his digital team support and deliver more than 8,000 IT service requests per year with the organisation hoping to increase the rate.

For employees a two way communication is needed to help understand the industry better in how they can work to achieve a shared business goal. In enabling a CIO as a mentor this can establish a relationship between the digital leader and employee encouraging new opportunities for the organisation in getting it ahead of its competitors.(Read next: Why CIOs should operate an apprenticeship scheme)