Three Steps to a Smooth CIO Transition

It’s no secret that the position of retail CIO is frequently in a state of flux. For a variety of reasons, retail CIOs will shift their career with a different company, meaning at some point most retail IT professionals will probably find themselves transitioning to a new top boss.

While the prospect of having to work under a new CIO may seem daunting, the transition process does not have to be awkward or painful. In fact, with the right approach, retail IT practitioners can enjoy a smooth changeover that sets the stage for a harmonious and productive working relationship. Here are three critical steps to a smooth CIO transition

1. Document Best Practices

The biggest fear employees have any time a new boss arrives is that things will be done differently. However, change is not necessarily a negative, and it’s only logical that someone hired to run a department would bring their own ideas and processes. At the same time, certain existing internal procedures may be highly beneficial and worth saving.

There is nothing a new chief executive hates more than hearing from their underlings than, “but this is how we’ve always done it.” However, by carefully selecting and documenting a few key in-house best practices and presenting them in a professional and diplomatic manner, IT employees stand a good chance of maintaining the measures that genuinely help them do their jobs better. If a practice cannot be easily documented, it’s probably not worth saving

2. Have an Open Mind

The odds of an unintelligent or uninformed person achieving the position of CIO are small. Therefore, IT professionals need to have an open mind when the new CIO inevitably suggests new systems, architectures, processes or philosophies. Even if a successful best practice is carefully and accurately documented, the new CIO may still prefer to modify or replace it to better align with their own vision.

It is not easy for a seasoned IT professional to alter or abandon a practice they know works. But it may be necessary. By having an open mind upfront, employees will make it much more likely that the CIO will have an open mind later on when they hit their own adjustment obstacles and find themselves in need of some fresh perspective.

3. Let the Business Guide Your IT Actions

Obviously, everyone wants to impress the new CIO. One of the best ways of doing so is to present yourself as an innovator, someone on the cusp of the latest technologies disrupting the retail paradigm.

Any good retail IT professional should be up-to-date with the latest and greatest technology innovations hitting the industry, but this does not mean they should automatically endorse them. An employee who blindly promotes the adoption of leading-edge systems and practices may initially present themselves as an innovator, but will soon expose themselves as a self-promoting trend follower. The true innovators are the IT professionals who stay abreast of what’s happening in the industry and adopt the new technologies and methodologies that actually serve the needs of the business.

Let the business guide your IT actions and you’ll find yourself on the path to success no matter who the CIO is.


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