Ask a CIO

David Gee

Transformation & Digital CIO

David is a well known Transformation & Digital CIO, he consults as an CXO Advisor in Financial Services.

With 18 years as a CIO, David has deep experience in digital change. At CUA he successfully led a major transformation of all systems and technology, this culminated in him winning CIO of the Year in 2014 for Financial Services.

He is heavily embedded in the Fintech startup ecosystem as an Advisor to Sapien Ventures, Tyro Fintech Hub, Venturetec Accelerator and also advises a number of startups.

David is a popular writer for a number of IT publications including CIO, Computerworld and CSO.

Q

My colleague disrespects the CIO behind his back

I’ve heard my other IT Senior Manager at the coffee shop, say not so great things about our boss. I feel guilty by association and this could be overheard by others. My boss is not perfect, but I’m not sure what to do? Should I tell him or should I just ignore this??

A

I’m glad that you raised this. This is a tricky situation and you are correct in saying that you can be guilty by association. Too many times in my life, I’ve seen people do similar things or make inappropriate comments.

The thing is that whether it is a real concern or not, that is not the key thing. It is more about the appropriateness of the behaviour in that time and place. For me as CIO, I would always be wanting the team to feel that they have permission to speak up, even when they would know I may be taking the opposite position. Your own integrity is at stake here. My advice is to take this colleague aside and first address the point around ‘place and time’, specifically that in future please don’t make such comments in a public place. It would be useful to actually say that I should have spoken up and suggested but I let it go and now regret that I didn’t speak. Then suggest that you have to take up the issue with the boss, and let him know that you have a concern. Yes, that takes real courage, but just to ‘beef’ about it serves no purpose and it may be the case that the boss really is not self aware of the issue you have raised.

As a CIO you have to work with a team that trusts you and also that is also reciprocated. In the absence of ‘trust’, there is no team and it will end up with issues that escalate. The easy thing to do is to go and start talking to a third person C, and comment how you heard A saying this. Then when that happens you are actually not that much better.

A leader has to tackle the hard things, and human behaviours are the hardest – particularly when it comes to peer behaviour. I’ve also seen that a subtle way to deal with this is to suggest that the team principles may need to be refined or defined. These simple principles 5-6 items, would cover behaviours that help to shape how individuals should behave. I’d be happy to send you some that work for me – just send me your details.

- David Gee, Transformation & Digital CIO