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The Dilemma Clouding the Successor of a CIO

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, December 20, 2012
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Bangalore: Choosing a successor for the CIO’s office can be a tricky situation for the management as they are caught between an internal IT candidate and a potential outsider. Both options are affixed with its own set of pros and cons. Which is why it becomes all the more imperative on the part of executive decision makers to meticulously weigh the consequences of their choice which would impact the organization in the long run, reports Ann Bednarz of Network World.

Succession planning is a vital component for any organization from the viewpoint of continuity of services in the event of a vacancy. It becomes doubly important in the case of CIOs whose average tenure is around 4 – 5 years, according to a report by Society for Information Management (SIM).

Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing specialist Modis, of the insider/outsider hiring debate, states, “In many cases, there's already a laid-out career path for people and a CIO's successor is being groomed," he says. "Often a CIO has a succession plan not only for himself but also for his leadership team."

Emphasizing the importance on succession planning, Cullen adds, “Loss of key talent costs companies lots of money. We're seeing much more attention at all levels being paid to succession planning.”

Surprisingly, a recent survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, among 1400 CIOs revealed that 79 percent do not have a firm successor in place, with only 20 percent stating otherwise.

As such, it leaves the management in a precarious spot when it comes replacing the outgoing CIO. It can either a hire from within which will foster loyalty among the employees, helping to retain other key members of the workforce. However, it is sometimes required of a company to hunt for candidates outside the enterprise due to lack of confidence among the prevailing internal candidates or driven by the desire to inject change in the reigning system.

In such cases, organizations face the potential risk of not only losing credibility from its employees but also lose the internal candidate and its followers in the long run. However, it has to be noted that a change in management, for instance a new CEO, might also trigger the need to hire an outsider.

Nonetheless, it becomes prerequisite for the management to maintain a formidable line of communication under any circumstances so that they can be conveyed and made to comprehend the need to hire an outsider.

As Cullen adequately put it, “There's got to be very clear conversations with an individual who's passed over. They're going to move on unless they see some other types of opportunities that make it worth staying.”

So what it’s going to be – loyal internal or external expert?

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