Career Watch

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Anthony Hill, The CIO at Golden Gate University in San Francisco answers questions related to the challenges of a new boss and pursuing a graduate degree.

When my boss retired earlier this year, someone from the outside was brought in. She operates very differently. Where my old boss liked to pick the staff's brains and foster discussion, our new manager gets ideas of her own and isn't interested in any input from us. Many of us feel we're heading in the wrong direction with some of her initiatives, but we don't get a lot from her about why she's doing what she's doing. What can we do?

Understanding what others want and need is one of the hardest challenges in management, and in being managed. Often, the experience you are describing stems from basic personality differences or a lack of awareness of what others are perceiving. It may be that your old boss was an extrovert and thrived on discussion and collaboration, while your new boss is an introvert and is more comfortable working with ideas. Often, the latter can be perceived as not wanting input or as preferring to generate their own ideas, but the reality is they just are not as comfortable asking for input or proactively communicating. Remember, she is new in the job, does not know the team well, is trying to prove herself, and would likely benefit from you and the team taking the first steps to reach out and collaborate. It may take multiple tries.

All good managers and leaders know how to get input from their team and channel that input into action. I suggest giving her the benefit of the doubt and helping her with collaboration -- something that is a challenge for her. If that fails, then she operates at her own peril, because a manager is only as good as her team, and she needs you in order to be successful.

I'm paying my way through graduate school by holding down my full-time job doing networking for a big company. I'm doing my job as well as ever, but I sense some resentment. I guess I just want someone to tell me what that's all about.

Congratulations on your motivation and work ethic. I have managed people pursuing graduate degrees while working full time, and I've done that myself, so I know that you have to manage your energy level and make sure you are still contributing the same amount of creative energy at work as you did before your graduate studies.

There is a difference between "doing the job" and contributing creative energy that goes beyond basic job requirements. It may be that your co-workers or managers are picking up on an energy change with you and sense you have begun to reallocate your energy away from the job. You may not even be aware of this potential change in yourself because you are so busy trying to manage all your time demands, and the signs are subtle. They could also have picked up a sense from you that when you get your degree, you will begin looking for a new job.

Anthony Hill
Anthony Hill

Earning a graduate degree says a lot about your character and is excellent for your career advancement, but it can breed resentment in those who believe you're preparing to make an exit. Ultimately, they only know what you telegraph or say about yourself. Carefully manage those perceptions, and perhaps obtaining your advanced degree will result in a promotion at your current employer. They would be crazy not to want people like you.

Question?

If you have a question for one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com, and watch for this column each month.

The Reporting Report

One-third of CIOs or the most-senior IT decision-makers report to the CEO, according to Forrester Research Inc. The overall rate of 34% rises to 46% for those in business services, and drops to 24% for those in the public sector (where CEOs are hard to find) and for those in the media, entertainment and leisure industries (in which the most common reporting relationship is CIO to CFO). Company size is also a factor.

Does the CIO or most-senior IT decision-maker in your company report to the CEO?

Fewer than 1,000 employees 21%
1,000 to 4,999 employees 35%
5,000 to 19,999 employees 32%
20,000 or more employees 38%

Base: 503 IT decision-makers Source: Forrester Research Inc., July 2008

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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