istock vaniatos

Many CIOs are juggle a series of responsibilities including managing multiple teams across varied departments and sites.

According to Harvey Nash, 34% of organisations expect to increase their team size in 2018, meaning CIOs are having to manage teams across different territories and even departments.

We examine how CIOs can manage multiple teams with ease.

Put systems in place

A good plan should include clear communication, regular check-ups and scheduled meetings to ensure you can manage multiple teams and projects.

It's important to create a clear structure by communicating openly and offering support to all members of your team.

Having an open-door policy and the use of collaboration tools can help monitor teams to ensure they are on track with set goals.

CIO Catherine Doran has developed a system which creates new ways to interact with her team at Royal Mail.

"Two years ago I set up a group called the 'Culture Crew', which varied in seniority and tenure with Royal Mail, to work on the task of defining our desired culture, in helping to determine what actions we could take to help make that a reality," she said.

The CIO admitted that in the first year the organisation struggled to gain real traction and engagement from staff.

"As a CIO I had to go back to the drawing board," she said. "We set up a series of workshops to which all staff were invited (including contract staff and staff from third parties who work in our buildings) and invited people to enumerate what they like about the culture, what they would like to change and how they would measure success, in which we used RMG values and the umbrella (there are three: be positive, be part of it, be brilliant) around which to organise our thinking."

The umbrella approach saw Doran change the way she communicated with and managed her teams as well as supporting a wider cultural change.

Give feedback

In some organisations, having regular contact with your CIO is rare due to increasing responsibilities in their demanding role.

While team members should regularly engage with their CIO to ensure projects are on task, teams need to understand how they are performing and be given regular feedback to ensure they are on track for professional development.  

As employees' needs and priorities change over time, teams should have the support from the CIO through offering advice and having regular employee appraisals to help solve business problems together.

Businesses should implement a progress report on individuals which can address issues such as user workload, skill gaps and the needs of the employee to help ensure fulfillment in their role.
 
Taking action and giving regular feedback to employees can have an impact not only on the team and individual roles but also the business, and CIO Bob Brown regularly brings his team together at Manchester City Council.

"I have weekly team stand-ups, brown-bag lunchtime conversations and one-to-ones," he said. "This has helped to fundamentally change the way we are perceived by others."

Brown has seen his leadership skills secure the best people for his team as well as gain clarity about the journey they are on as a Council.

Regular engagement with the Council staff has ensured members understand their role in the development of ICT and beyond.

"We focus on the basics and doing those things well, one-to-ones, team meetings, objective setting, vision, strategy, etc. By launching a colleague feedback survey this can help to see how the changes are being made and how they are impacting frontline staff," he said.

(See also: 7 easy ways to improve your IT team's productivity)

Get to know employees

As digital leaders are developing relationships outside of IT with business clients and vendors, CIOs can often work long hours to ensure a project is on track. The lack of communication and contact with members can lead to CIOs not building a rapport with teams.  

Establishing solid relationships with employees can create better engagement and work processes between CIOs and team members. 

Teams are made up of different skill sets and experiences from entry-level talent, who will require more support, to experienced employees.

CIO Duncan Gray regularly engages with his team and the business by putting in the time and effort to ensure he can manage multiple divisions at British Car Auctions.

"I operate at the coalface…and I dislike being in my office," he said. "I like listening to people to learn what is really going, whether they are the CEO, the developer or in the support team. That might be on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis in all areas of the business in any one of our countries.

"Engaging with the business and people is why I come to work. I believe IT is 50% and 50% people."

Regular engagement with team members through collaboration tools is a quick way to check in and make sure employees receive support throughout their working lives.

CIOs should lead by example and be adaptable to managing teams and multiple personality traits. Video conferencing, visiting work sites and sending internal emails to teams can help to give an overview of the team and how they are managing their workload.  

It has become the CIO's role to be an active listener to adapt to the individual's needs and act on any concerns early to avoid a talent shortage and fulfillment in their roles.

Use technology

While there are endless file management, collaboration and work management tools available on the market, CIOs should embrace these apps to ensure teams are on track with work projects.

Having the right tools can lead to a more effective and productive work culture with 22% of organisations having insufficient digital resources, according to a Gartner survey.

The use of technology can help take pressure off the CIO's role by being available to members at all times. CIO 100 organisations including Raymond Brown Construction, Home Office and Metapack, all of which have introduced digital tools to help monitor team workflows leading to an impact on task delivery.

Project management tools such as Taiga, Odoo and Orange Scrum are great for those wanting to share, edit and view documents, which can then be transferred into images and PDF files. These tools can help streamline processes, useful for saving the user's time, reducing costs, and managing team workloads. (See also: Best open-source project management tools 2017)

Delegate

Managing multiple locations and teams can often be challenging for CIOs.

Today's digital leaders are at risk of taking on too many responsibilities. CIOs need to assign and delegate tasks to team members according to their skill sets and expertise.

Kanban Flow, Todoist and OmniFocus are task management apps that all allow you to delegate tasks and communicate with team members to ensure projects are on track.

By delegating some of the workload it can enable CIOs to manage, collaborate and organise work schedules with multiple teams and help move the business forward.

Have respect for others and give everyone a voice

Teams comprise people with different strengths and weaknesses who are working together towards a shared business goal.

According to a Harvey Nash survey, almost 15% of employees feel unvalued in their roles today. While CIOs should have a positive impact on their teams through allowing members to share their opinions, having their voices heard can also earn them respect from fellow colleagues. Addressing these issues will create a better work environment while also helping to maintain a healthier work-life balance for its employees.

A great way to include team members is through inviting individuals to board and supplier meetings, which can help demonstrate they are acknowledged by the business and make them feel valued in their roles. A CIO should recognise team member contributions and recent accomplishments, which can help identify their capability for future projects while also ensuring they stay loyal to the organisation. (Read next: How a CIO can avoid a digital team burnout.)