Your Input Needed: Help Identify Traits that Make a Superstar Employee

Let’s face it: Not all of your employees are equally motivated.  If your organization is like so many others, you probably have a few IT staffers that come to work every day energized and ready to face the day in an attempt to find new solutions that can enable the business.  And, you probably also have a few people who come to work, do their job – and probably do it well – collect their paycheck and head home.  It’s just a fact of life.  There is nothing inherently negative in either kind of person.  The second type are often heralded as the steady workers that help ground the organization in reality which, when risky ventures are being considers, is in invaluable service.

However, as CIOs, we’d probably like more of the first kind of people on the team to help find new ways to propel the business.  Although they can be a bit more difficult to focus on a task sometimes, the outcomes when they do something are often excellent.  These are also more often the kind of people that are more willing to spend time training on their own to stay current – and move ahead – in the field.  And they may be the type that are more willing and able to accept assignments somewhat outside their comfort zone.  With the rapidly changing face of technology coupled with ever-changing business needs, CIOs need staff that can be flexible, even if formal training isn’t always immediately available, as new skill sets are required.

To me, these are the kind of people that aren’t afraid for their jobs.  A while back, I wrote two articles for TechRepublic that outlined ten things that I felt that IT departments should stop doing.  While not every IT department could stop doing everything I recommended, many were viable options, but the recommendations revolved around some core activities, such as:

  • Managing user accounts
  • Servicing printers
  • Making and installing cables
  • Manually installing software
  • Resetting passwords

Personally, I do not see much in the way of value-add to the organization in these activities.  Sure, for small organizations with little to no turnover, it might not make sense to spend the money to implement identity and password management, but as an organization scales, these activities simply east away valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Unfortunately, much of the response that I got to these recommendations was along the lines of “If I find ways to stop doing these things, I won’t have a job anymore.”  While I understand the need for job preservation, particularly in a poor economy, I’m somewhat dismayed that these are the tasks that are deemed important versus truly business critical needs for which CIOs struggle to scrape together resources.

We all read constantly that the “CIO needs to evolve” and that the “CIO needs to reduce emphasis on technology to get more on business”.  However, that means that we also need to take steps to move our staff members in that direction as well.  For those that don’t, they’ll be stuck at “keeping the lights on” for far too long as they are weighed down.  Further, these are the kinds of shops that are the easiest to outsource, so those jobs may not be as secure as people would hope.

So, I’d like to ask your thoughts? In your opinion, what makes an ideal staff person?  What traits do we need in IT staff as we approach 2020?  What risks do we currently face if we maintain the status quo?

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  • Geoffrey Fiszel

    Those who are the best at what they do have an affinity for their work such that, from a zen martial arts perspective they know without knowing and move without moving. They function intuitively and the work is not work at all. A necessary prerequisite if acquiring people with these talents, their retention, and to achieve scale is an environment with enhanced hospitality, one in which everyone treats and holds one another in the highest unconditional regard. Job satisfaction will be high, productivity will be very high, and client service off of the charts, but there is a caveat. It is not a closed system; the inputs and outputs must all be conformed. This means suppliers/service providers must be managed, as must clients, and those that do not fit must be culled and replaced by those that do.

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