How to build trust as a new IT executive

Rich Hein

Meet As Many People As You Can
Unless you are walking into a crisis-mode situation, you will normally have ample time as a new executive to meet the essential players. Use this time wisely. "Identify the people you want to establish a trust relationship with," says Pamela Rucker, chair of the CIO Executive Council's Executive Women in IT.

When getting started you've got to meet as many people as you can, figure out who the key players are and identify all of the key stakeholders. "It's important to take the time to meet as many employees as possible, and especially the middle management as soon as possible. While the senior leadership team has responsibility for implementing the strategy, its middle management that ultimately gets things done," says Wishon.

Once that strategy is formed, however, you should take every opportunity to explain the strategy to all employees, says Wishon. Defining and explaining strategy is one of the chief duties of a good executive, he says.

Set up both one-on-one and group meetings where appropriate. Ask your manager to identify peers that you should get to know. "During these sessions it would be a good idea to pay special attention to their expectations, prior challenges or successes from this role. Ask for their suggestions on short-, medium- and long-term focus of your position. After every session, assess if your evaluation of their role matches the "published organizational structure," says Jetly.

The organisational chart is a great way to understand how different departments and personnel will interact and influence what your deliverables are, Jetly says. "Spend time understanding the organization chart and assess how each position would relate to your role. Keep in mind that almost every company and group would have a published and an "un-published organization chart". You will need to rely on your intuition to build your own "un-published chart."

Solutions Don't Always Come From Where You Expect
You shouldn't focus only on the senior people, experts warn. You should also be talking to and, more importantly, listening to the people who are actually doing the work. These people often know what the real heart of the issue is, but they have to feel that you will do something positive with this information.

"Employees will only level with someone they trust. First, they have to trust that their confidence will be respected. Second, they have to trust that they will not be penalized by sharing the information. Finally, they have to believe that something positive will come from leveling with you. Employees generally raise delicate issues in the hope that someone in authority will improve the situation," says Laura Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and author of the book, "."

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