Technological advances such as the proliferation of big data, virtualization, videoconferencing and telepresence—and the enhanced capabilities and mobility of the workforce as a result of these advances—affect business in various ways.
Just as technology can make the modern workforce more productive, it also presents a number of challenges—including hiring the right people to keep pace with and manage these rapid technological changes. How can companies know if they’ve got all the right personnel onboard?
New Technologies, Same Old Challenges
The challenge of finding the right employees for any position is nothing new. But new technologies necessitate the creation of new positions based on company goals and objectives. HR directors and other company leaders must define these positions and then hire the best people to fill these new roles.
Identify the Technology-focused Positions to Fill
Companies need people to oversee the integration and use of applications. They may need someone to manage and maintain the technology that runs those applications. They may need staff to manage data collection, data storage, and content dissemination (such as for a digital signage system). They also need staff to help create and enforce the firm’s technology policies, including bring your own device (BYOD) policies, and to stay current on new technology to ensure the company keeps pace with competitors in terms of having the latest—or, at least, the right—tools to accomplish objectives.
Generally, the larger and more technology-oriented an organization is, the greater is its need to create these positions and fill them with competent people. Let’s look at some of the personnel who make up today’s tech teams in modern organizations.
• Chief Information Officers. The CIO’s job is to manage a company’s information technology strategies as well as the computer systems the business uses to achieve its goals. CIOs are especially useful in industries with strict compliance regulations. They can ensure that an organization’s applications and systems meet all necessary regulations and requirements.
In addition, the CIO often works with the Chief Financial Officer or accounting team to determine budgetary expenditures for new technology. But rather than being viewed by other departments as a gatekeeper, it’s the CIO’s job to ensure the return-on-investment of new technologies and to make sure data points across an organization remain integrated, regardless of how many separate apps or data silos may be used.
• Chief Data Officers. CDOs oversee the collection and storage of the vast amounts of data the company generates. A firm can use this data to improve the company’s performance. CDOs are most useful to especially large companies and businesses that generate large amounts of data and want to use this data to improve performance, efficiency or revenue. CDOs may help analyze data and turn it into actionable insights. This individual often has a background in data science, including statistical analysis and mathematics.
CDOs also ensure that a company stores data correctly so it is accessible, usable, and secure. In some industries, such as healthcare, compliance is a major concern. The CDO works with the CIO to procure the equipment necessary to keep mission critical data secure and in compliance.
• Chief Technology Officers. CTOs keep current with the latest technologies in their industries and ensure their companies have access to the best tools. They also create company policies regarding technology use, including bring your own device policies. CTOs can benefit industries that evolve quickly and deploy multiple technologies to enhance productivity and profits, such as videoconferencing, augmented reality, digital signage, or any Software-as-a-Service designed to help employees do their jobs. Without a CTO keeping abreast of the latest advancements and making recommendations for new technology adoptions, a business may find itself falling behind its competition.
Choose the Right People
With these C-level spots in mind—as well as their team members who may help manage the technology and execute policies—what should hiring managers look for in employees today? How can a hiring manager know if a person will be a truly good fit for an open position?
This question has plagued businesses for decades and has led to some practices that help ensure companies get the right people for their needs. These practices haven’t changed with the introduction of new technologies or with the creation of these new positions. But, as with nearly any aspect of business today, we can certainly use technology to make the hiring process easier and more efficient.
• Understand employees’ work lives. To select people who would fit well into a company, hiring managers must understand how the company treats its employees and what qualities help people succeed.
• Know the difference between performance and tenure. Employees who perform especially well at their jobs may find it too easy and ultimately quit; others may perform just adequately but will be happy at their jobs for years. Consider the costs of hiring and onboarding new employees when your top talent leaves, and weigh the costs and benefits of hiring too many top performers. As an alternative, work hard to find ways to keep top performers engaged and challenges so they’ll want to remain with your organization.
Consider that there are no bad employees, only bad fits. There is a job for every person. The trick is finding the right match between an employee’s personality and skills and a job’s requirements.
• Retain hiring information. The more hiring records a company keeps, the larger the pool of data it can use to draw conclusions about whether a candidate is good fit. Today’s cloud-based software and apps can make it easier than ever to store, sort, and analyze big data related to hiring.
• Do not use interviews to screen. Before a potential employee ever gets an interview, the hiring manager should be certain there are no obvious reasons that individual could not handle the position. Interviews are for probing, not screening. Today’s technology, including social media, web search engines, and video conferencing, makes it easier than ever to screen prospects before inviting them to your office for an interview.
Building Your Technology Team
Remember, your technology team—from the C-suite down—usually has to work closely with employees in other departments to help them deploy and use technology effectively. Look for and hire employees and leaders with high Emotional Intelligence, as well a passion for the technology they’ll be implementing and managing.
Someone who is a good communicator and is equally passionate about personal relations and technology will be more willing to help find technology-based solutions—and know where to look to find those solutions to keep the company on the cutting edge.
To ensure you’re hiring strong leaders, you’ll want to go a step beyond the qualifications and traits you may look for in good mid-level employees. Consider the network your CIO, CTO, or CDO brings to the table. Do they know app developers? Software-as-a-Service providers? Freelance coders or web designers? In today’s increasingly flexible, mobile workplace, you’re not just hiring an executive—you’re gaining access to their network of connections.
A successful organization will recognize that top leaders—especially tech-savvy leaders in technology roles—place some focus on building their own personal brands. A smart company should take steps to ensure any activities to that end also benefit the company, so your organization can grow as your c-suite grows.
With the right team in place, managing technology doesn’t have to fall on the shoulders of individual employees or executives who may not be qualified for the task. Your c-level technology team should work closely with your CEO, CFO, and CMO to ensure that the technology in place is secure, efficient, user-friendly, and just what the company needs to be successful.