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Pressure Points

Pressure Points

While CIOs all have different ways of tackling pressure, they all point to its single source: everywhere

"I look to use a spread of internal and external sourcing and make it very clear where our resources should be focused. The main driver for us in IT is to build capabilities that are aligned to customer intimacy. We should have the advantage over external sources in understanding the business drivers, where a lot of external providers probably have the advantage with their particular technical skills. We are going though a transition — on a bit of a journey to reposition our skills — to develop a lot more capabilities in business analysis and architecture, contract management, strategic management and less about the technical skills. The specific technical skills can come from the broader market," Welsh says.

Even so, the very full workload at the council means that Welsh and his team are challenged to provide services on a day-to-day basis and formulate strategies for the future. "The hours can be high," he says. "If the standard working week is 37-40 hours then once you are up to 55 and above you start to put pressure on them."

Welsh confirms that a typical working week for him is 50-55 hours, but adds that for some of his technical people the demand for them is "over and above that". To avoid burning out his staff, Welsh says he puts a lot of emphasis on a strategy called Zero Harm, which links occupational health and safety and wellness and insists you keep a close eye on your people and build balance.

But he acknowledges that it is difficult. "It is often always the same people who are under pressure to work long hours. You need sight of that and insist that they build in rest to their programs.

"Pressure affects everyone. You need to keep everything in balance and deal with things without taking them personally." To release the pressure he feels, he plays golf at the weekends and spends time with family and friends, plus he takes the occasional holiday. "Although that's probably not long enough as I tend to take a week here and there — [I] probably need two weeks."

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