It’s no secret that strong leadership is critical, particularly in the current health IT environment. What seems less obvious, however, is figuring out how to retain skilled CIOs and keep them happy. But according to the April healthsystemCIO.com Snap Survey, the answer isn’t as complicated as one might think.
“It’s all about relationships,” noted one respondent. The survey found that nearly half (46 percent) of CIOs cite having strong ties with the executive team as the biggest factor in maintaining a high level of job satisfaction. It “allows you some freedom to drive strategy and influence decision-making,” noted another. Along those lines, respondents also expressed the need for latitude. As one CIO remarked, “If you are only responding reactively to the business decision, then you really do not need the skills of a seasoned CIO.”
And if CIOs don’t feel satisfied, they are willing to walk. Although just 14 percent of CIOs said they are actively searching for a new position, almost half admitted they are open to hearing offers. The primary reasons for wanting to pursue new opportunities include frustration with the current role and the need to pursue new challenges. “I do not have adequate time to spend on the strategic and directional aspects of the job since I am always doing day-to-day management,” one CIO noted. However, transitioning to a new organization often means having to relocate and establish new relationships, both of which were cited as obstacles.
But as one respondent pointed out, fear of change should never dictate the decision to explore new opportunities. “You are not doing your employer any service if you are not happy. If that is the case, you are not bringing your ‘A’ game to the table every day. In our professional lives, there is nothing worse than losing your drive and satisfaction from your work.”
(SnapSurveys are answered by the healthsystemCIO.com CIO Advisory Panel. To see a full-size version of all charts, click here. To go directly to a full-size version of any individual chart, click on that chart.)
1. How long have you been in your current role?
Less than 1 year
- Five years this June.
- I may not see 3 years…
More than 10 years
- 20 years
2. Are you looking to transition to another organization in the near future?
Yes (I’m actively looking)
- I plan to move to semi-retirement within a year.
Possibly (Not necessarily looking, but am open to hearing offers)
- I think it’s prudent to be open to opportunities. Most of the positions I’ve held have come out of the blue.
- I work with a terrific leadership team and have a fired-up IT and HIM department. I also live in a fantastic location with a stress-free life style that offsets the craziness of our industry.
- I’m very challenged, supported, and am able to succeed in enterprise-wide initiatives.
- No, but the reality is with current transitions in healthcare, I have one eye and/or thought down the road.
- I’m within a couple years of retirement and do not want to transition. Even if I wasn’t, it would take quite a bit for me to want to go to another organization.
- Not currently.
3. What is the primary reason for wanting to pursue a new role?
More desirable location
Higher salary/more responsibility
Frustration with current role
- I am currently responsible for CIO responsibilities along with day-to-day management. I do not have adequate time to spend on the strategic and directional aspects of the job since I am always doing day-to-day management.
- There is a movement to reduce IT to core functions and treat it as a utility. The CFO is now our COO, too. And, surprise, he wants to cut more than the 15 percent we served up in January. I think the real question is, “Why do CFO’s hate IT so much?”
Seeking a new challenge
- I’m a turnaround guy. Once things settle down, I am looking for the next one. Sounds kind of crazy when I think about it.
- Poor organizational finances.
- Timing/impact on family.
4. What is the biggest drawback in transitioning to a different organization?
Having to relocate
- I like the area I’m in, so my first choice would be consulting.
Dealing with the learning curve
Establishing new relationships
- Learning a new organization and leaving behind a really great team that you trust.
- Relationships are key to both success and satisfaction.
- It really is not a deterrent to leave. Everyone should be happy in the work they do, and if they are not, they should have the courage to make the change, as it usually works out for the best. You are not doing your employer any service if you are not happy; if that is the case, you are not bringing your ‘A’ game to the table every day. In our professional lives, there is nothing worse than losing your drive and satisfaction from your work.
Fear of regretting the decision
- Having made four transitions over the last 24 years, I’ve learned that the biggest challenge is fitting in with the top level executives. If that works, everything else falls in place. I’m batting .500 so far.
- Commitment to my current organization, not wanting to leave in the middle of a massive transformation, and desire to see things through.
5. What is the biggest key to maintaining a high level of job satisfaction as CIO?
Strong relationships with executive team
- Retaining staff, IMHO, is not a problem if they are challenged, understand why they are here and what they are doing, and have a staff retention program driven by the staff, rather than management.
- It starts with strong relationships with the executive team, but all the items in the list are critical to my job satisfaction.
- It should be work-life balance, but for me, it’s strong relationships. This allows you some freedom to drive strategy and influence decision-making.
Influence in decision-making
- Strong relationships with the executive team are obviously important; however, lacking the authority from the corporate office to respond to strategic needs in a timely way strains even the best relationships.
- As a CIO, if you are only responding reactively to the business decision, they you really do not need the skills of a seasoned CIO… a director would be just fine.
- For me, it’s ALL about relationships — not just with senior leadership, but with all team members and stakeholders.
- I think the relationships are a given for the role. The key is if IT is relevant or not to the organization. Even in 2013, there are some places where they just don’t get it.
Ability to retain staff
- All of the above!
- In order to maintain a high level of job satisfaction, I have to have the right financial and staff resources to do the job correctly. Currently we are under a financial crunch and I have very limited pharmacy resources, even though many of my projects require a pharmacy informatics person. I want to be proud of the job I do and I want my staff proud of what we do, but we need adequate resources.