From Problem to Productive Workforce
Leadership Staffing

From Problem to Productive Workforce

Staffing - From Problem to Productive Workforce

Best strategies gather dust or don’t meet their full potential due to people-related challenges. Getting rid of problem employees does not solve the underlying issues. We need to identify such employees, communicate with them, manage their resistance to change and turn them around. How do you lay the groundwork to minimize people issues from surfacing, quickly and efficiently fix them if they do, and enjoy the fruits of predictably realized strategies using productive workforce?

 

Top 5 Learning Points

  1. How to make resources feel like they have a contributory value in the organization
  2. How do you define a problem employee and do course correction?
  3. How do you motivate employees, so they see the reality of their expectations and continue on a path of growth- for themselves as well as the organization
  4. How do you ensure employees exhibit the best productivity and feel motivated to stay?
  5. While IT teams need to be available 24X7, how do team leaders ensure they get the best work-life balance?

 

Show Notes

  • Machines produce an output; people have outcomes, so once we decide this is how we are going to treat our employees- you will start seeing the change in the outcomes of the organization.
  • People want to be part of the IT organization, they want to be a part of the decision-making process, and they want the leadership to tell them where we are headed.
  • When you start having that expectation of what it means to work in IT-we realize we help others solve their problems -we empower greatness in others.
  • We are trying not to burn employees out but instead engage them in a way where they are excited to come home to work, and they are comfortable going home and spending time with their family.
  • People are our most precious resource; we have to invest in people, empower them for greatness but then hold them accountable to deliver those results.
  • There needs to be a commitment from the leadership team. Once they show commitment to all employees in the organization, they will start doing things that will amaze you.

 

Transcript Summary

The problem of predictive workforce begins when we expect outputs from our employee base rather than treating them as individuals who have professional aspirations and emotions. There’s a distinction to be made between a machine and a human being. Where people are your most precious resource, and you intend to empower them for greatness; you have to make the necessary investments in your people so that they have got the relevant skill set, you are doing long-term planning. Also, if you are trying to empower people for greatness, you have to hold them accountable for doing great things. Everyone needs to be an agent of innovation, and that is not hype, that is a reality, that is where the accountability comes in. Creating a culture of teamwork, appreciation, and collaboration often helps trouble workers to turn around. Then there is always the recognition of the effort that leadership takes that mends some of them too. Fair and equitable treatment nurtures positivity and allows CIOs to create growth plans that ensure harmonious working in the midst of 24-hour workdays!

 

Transcript:

Sanjog: Our guest today is Samuel Sudhakar, the Chief Information Officer, and Vice President, Information Technology Services at California State University, San Bernardino to discuss the transition of resources, “Problem To Productive Workforce.” We also have Curtis Carver, the Vice President, and Chief Information Officer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In today’s day and age, many ideas are floating. We are doing digital transformation; trying to take the business to the next level. We want to meet the customer demands well. We have got great strategies around it as well. However, in many cases, people who are supposed to help realize those plans are the problem, and some of those issues are chronic. This is our challenge, but we do not seem to see much of an improvement in there.

Since you know people are integral to the growth and one of the essential elements, are the not enough investments being made, or we are unsure of the output? Sam, do we not know how to navigate and how to invest it wisely for us to get where we want to be?

Sam: Let’s focus on the word “output.” Machines produce output, people have outcomes, so that is the first distinction we need to make. Mainly most of the IT folks in the past were machine facing resources, working with machines, do programming, systems administration, network, etc. For the most part, we have expected outputs from our employee base rather than treating them as individuals who have professional aspirations and emotions. There’s a distinction between a machine and a human being. Moreover, for people who are used to facing devices, we have expected outputs from them.

We have expected outputs from our employee base rather than treating them as individuals who have professional aspirations and emotions, etc. There’s a distinction between a machine and a human being.

That is the issue at hand. The minute we change the lens to say that IT resources have their aspirations and they want to be a part of the decision-making process, they will want to buy into the vision of the organization. This is so, especially for the millennial generation. Once we decide this is how we are going to treat our employees- you will start seeing the change in the outcomes of the organization.

Sanjog: Curtis, Sam mentions the outcome and when he says that if we treat them right, things will start turning around. Would you say, this can be done in an objective and measurable manner? Alternatively, do you think this will always remain a soft approach to fixing an underlying problem which is causing us to hold back from where we want to be?

Curtis: Sam nailed it. When you look at people in your organization, different companies reach one of two different conclusions.

One, people are resources to be burned up and so that they become shops that hire people to burn them out and then hire more people, burn them out and keep going on. That does not work very well, especially if you are trying to be a transformational organization. The counter to that is where people are your most precious resource, and you intend to empower them for greatness. Then you have to make the necessary investments in your people so that they have got the relevant skill set. That is long-term planning.

Where people are your most precious resource, and you intend to empower them for greatness; you have to make the necessary investments in your people so that they have got the relevant skill set, you are doing long-term planning.

I will give you some concrete examples. Every single year we make goal statements. These are the goals that we want each of our employees to do; those goals tie back to the strategic plans, which connect with the business case for the university. These combine with the quarterly counseling sessions for some of our employees because even though we are a public university, some of our employees are on incentive plans. Moreover, then that incentive plan ties into to their performance of those specific outcomes.

The other thing is, if you are trying to empower people for greatness, you have to hold them accountable for doing great things, setting higher goals. In my organization what that means is, we only hire A-plus players. They need to have the technical skills and the soft skills, Sam was talking about -for the business facing, and they need to have emotional maturity. Moreover, I am getting old and cranky, but I only hire people smarter than me. Besides, my wife says, that should be the easiest thing I do every day. Once we get them, we want to keep those A-plus players and then compensate them.

Sanjog: Where we talk about compensation and even with the environment or the lens that you mentioned, Sam, what people problems do you still see in your organization or similar organizations to yours?

If you are trying to empower people for greatness, you have to hold them accountable for doing great things

Sam: Employees do not become problem employees from day one. Every employee starts out with giving their best and contributing to the organization so that they can grow in their career. Over time, that changes because of the other reasons. Some of the reasons that we discovered were, we fail to equip our employees with the right tools to do their job. We fail to empower them to make decisions and always wait for management to do it. We fail to recognize them when they do a good job when they accomplish something.

The compensation you talked about is not only intrinsic; there is extrinsic compensation and inherent compensation. Many employees like to be recognized, to feel like they own something and they are contributing towards the vision and mission of the organization like Curtis said. In our team a year ago, I went to an exercise, and I met with about 108 ITS employees. Moreover, I met with them as individuals. Throughout my one-on-one meetings without supervisors, we discovered five different things that came up:

  1. Communication was an issue
  2. Career development pathways,
  3. Participatory decision-making,
  4. Workload and a
  5. Clear vision.

These are the five categories of issues that we discovered. If you look at those, none of them relate to being underpaid. People want to be part of the IT organization, they want to be a part of the decision-making process, and they want the leadership to tell them where we are headed.

These are the five categories of issues that we discovered. None of them relate to being underpaid. People want to be part of the IT organization, they want to be a part of the decision-making process, and they want the leadership to tell them where we are headed. Instead of saying these are your paths for today and this is what I want you to accomplish, we want them to become a part of the mission of the institution and a part of the strategic plan. As a part of our discovery last year, we started doing the professional development plans. Like Curtis had mentioned earlier, these professional development plans focus on their career development pathways, of where they want their next step to be and how as an organization we can help them get there.

In about a year, we are heading in the right direction but those are the five top issues that we identified, and then we further did some grilling. I will be able to answer more questions as we go along in this show, to say how we have addressed each one of those issues.

Sanjog: That is great, thanks, Sam. Curtis, would you want to add to the inventory of problems that were reported?

Curtis: Yeah. Sam was talking about lack of empowerment, but sometimes within IT, people get into a niche, and they engage in what I call occupational hobbies, things that used to be essential to work but no longer matter. They no longer represent how that work gets done. That misalignment can cause problems in an organization because we are looking for people that are quick and critical thinkers. They need to come in and move through the organization and solve different problems. We hope they will be with us for a long time, but they are going to solve lots of various issues, instead of repetitive tasks.

Sometimes you see IT, people get into a niche, and they engage in what I call occupational hobbies, things that used to be essential to work but no longer matter.

I completely agree with the idea of empowering people to do great things by ensuring recognition. Let me give you s... Read Full Transcript v  

 

Contributors

Samuel Sudhakar, Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology Services, California State University, San Bernardino

Dr. Samuel Sudhakar serves as the Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology Services at California State University, San Bernardino where he provides leadership to Academic, Administrative, Infrastructure Techn... More   View all posts

Curtis Carver, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Carver was named vice president for information technology and chief information officer in June 2015, following a national search. In this role as servant leader and enabler of others, he leads a team of dedicated professionals focus... More   View all posts
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