Practicing IT Talent Management in Tough Times


As we've mentioned again and again, alignment and staffing remain the top concerns for CIOs heading into 2009. Union Pacific CIO Lynden Tennison gets it, and so does Tom Kelly.

Kelly is CIO and CFO at 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, an equipment seller with $100 million in revenue and 100 locations in the upper midwest. Alignment is a top (and ongoing) priority for Kelly, particularly because of his dual role as technology and finance chief at 2nd Wind.

He came up the finance ranks, so he keeps a close eye on projects. At the same time, though, he's sensitive to the needs of his IT staff. When it comes to drilling down on which projects to pursue, Kelly says, "You do have a limited amount of resources (people and capital). You can have 100 great ideas, but you have to narrow them down."

When that time comes, he and his deputies try to bring IT staffers to the table. Literally. Every 90 days or so, he sits down with each of his IT workers to discuss priorities and ongoing project work. That helps him decide where best to place his human resources.

That constant dialogue is important to him. Everybody's gotten feedback throughout their lives, from report cards to performance reviews. But, as Kelly says, "It seems like you get into the business and all that stops."

Keeping close tabs on employees helps deter them from going off on their own projects that don't deliver maximum value to the company, and keeps them engaged in top initiatives and priorities. That's helped him keep voluntary turnover among IT staffers in the single digits in a retail industry that usually sees that number get up around 20 percent.

Kelly is using some old-school tactics to keep his people engaged, and ultimately keep them on board. What are you doing to keep you best workers on board?

Also see: How to Retain Top IT Workers


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