CIO Priorities: How to Set Goals That Matter

Ambitious goals are popular, but they have their perils. With too many tasks and too little time to do them, goals can fall by the wayside sometimes. So how can IT leaders set goals that are realistic and achievable? Mark Samuels, in writing for ZDNet, offers four tips in creating goals that benefit business objectives:

  1. Make sure everyone in your team understands their targets.
  2. Create looser frameworks to help people deliver change with confidence.
  3. Understand what future success looks like and measure effectiveness.
  4. Develop a culture that encourages communication and collaboration.

Hit the Right Targets

First, a project is a team effort, so you have to make people know what they are striving for. Some leaders choose to describe the expected outcomes without giving a direction on how to get there. However, deciding what those outcomes should be in the first place often involves detailed conversations with senior management. Work targets for individual team members will ultimately be tied to the outcomes agreed upon in such discussions. This means traditional techniques for measuring and appraising performance don’t always work, and the frameworks need to be loose enough so that there is a breathing space.

IT leaders need to think through the bigger picture behind their operations and the impact they will create on the business. The aim of IT activities is often associated with improvements in customer service and customer experience, stronger brand recognition, and increased profits. In order to achieve these goals, a collaborative and transparent culture needs to be promoted. People should be given a position in important decision-making processes. Samuels quotes CIO consultant Andrew Abboud:

Great leaders will find a way to communicate with people and to set appropriate goals. “You need a mechanism that brings their feedback to you,” says Abboud. “If you don’t develop that mechanism then you will start to develop a cultural problem.”

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