Guiding Your IT Department on the Road to Change

Guiding Your IT Department on the Road to Change

After two mergers, the CIO of logistics provider YRC Worldwide had to carefully apply change leadership techniques to blend three IT departments into one.

We began a campaign to divorce people from their parochial thinking, to emphasize that as a new corporate entity we needed to begin acting and thinking together. We chose the name YRC Worldwide Technologies because we support all the brands in the corporation. It's not a sexy name, but it's significant because there's nothing about Yellow, Roadway or USF in that name. We also created a tag line for the organization -- "Smart People, Powerful Technology" -- that helped to establish a new identity.

New names, of course, aren't enough to change behaviours. So we went on a change "binge" starting with our staffing structure. We created an architecture and strategy group that also had responsibility for standards and IT processes. Through this group, we implemented common processes for development, change, release, workforce and project management.

Our managers also created a "Guiding Council," which is a group of managers that comes up with practical ways to help implement change and serves as a "voice of reason" for the organization. It points out flaws in our change initiatives and offers suggestions for how they can be implemented. The council also has been very helpful in suggesting the amount of change the organization can absorb over a period of time. To get our message out, the leadership team used a variety of communication tools ranging from the more traditional all-hands meetings and employee roundtables to holding Web chats.

Everyone Needs a Stake

Along with the new identity and structures, we needed to motivate people to embrace change as individuals. I believe people enjoy a challenge. But they need to believe the challenge is achievable or you'll have failed before you even get started. On the other hand, if it's not a big enough challenge, then you won't get them in the game; they'll think of it as just the initiative of the day.

There's also the question of, "What's in it for me?" This one is tricky because the answer will vary from person to person and location to location. When you speak to mixed groups you can't always know how to personalize the benefit for each individual. But you can speak generally to the benefits of change to the company, which will in turn benefit employees who are shareholders. Or you can take the opposite approach and talk about how, if we don't change, we risk underperforming our competitors. And underperforming the competition is dangerous because it puts jobs at risk. But I prefer to stay positive and motivate people around positive messages.

You can also tailor your message when you are talking to specific groups. For example, we have some legacy technologies that we're moving away from. The people working in those technologies are concerned about their relevance. To get them on board, I explain to them that as long as they are willing to learn the technologies we are moving to, we will make the investments needed to retrain them.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about ACTLeaderLeaderRoadwayTransportation

Show Comments