Five Critical Factors Influencing CIO Tenure, by Steven Zeelau

Although the average tenure for senior Information Technology leaders within healthcare organizations has headed upwards over the past few years, it’s still relatively short, on average about four years.

Here are some factors within the overall job environment that often play a significant role in how long a CIO or other senior IT leader stays within a healthcare organization:

• Expectations of the Board and senior executive team. If the trustees and the CEO expect to bring someone on board who will stabilize the IT team and stay the course, that may lead to a longer than normal tenure. On the other hand, if the expectation is that the new CIO is being hired largely to be a change agent and shake things up, then just by the nature of fulfilling those expectations, there will likely be some organizational resistance and pushback that could result in a shorter tenure than average.

• Expectations of the IT leader. If a candidate for a top IT position is solely focused on building his or her resume, then a short tenure may result. On the other hand, if a candidate thrives on the challenges of developing workable IT solutions and is gratified by seeing them benefit the organization and its customer over time, that candidate may experience a longer-term tenure.

• History of the position. If the CEO of a healthcare organization has a practice and reputation of bringing in new talent to “fix” IT problems and yet is unwilling to tackle the underlying operational and political issues that act as barriers to such solutions, buyer beware! A short-term tenure is almost guaranteed.

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  • Alignment between the past successes of the IT leader and the organization’s goals. The board and senior leaders of the organization may be convinced they need someone for the top IT position to make strategic changes to the direction of IT including its underlying infrastructure. If the top candidate for the job has demonstrated successful strategic redirection in the past, look for the potential of a solid tenure.

• Alignment between the natural style of the IT leader and the organization’s culture. If a take-charge, entrepreneurial CIO steps into a new job at an organization that is slow to change and is known by its affiliative culture, there’s likely to be a showdown in the future that will affect job satisfaction and tenure.

FaithSearch Partners believes high potential placements that result in close alignment and lead to longer tenure begin with a systematic upfront process of researching and spelling out not only a carefully crafted job description, but also environmental factors such as those above at the front end of the engagement. Potential candidates are then sourced and screened to match the aligned qualifications and personal leadership style.

FaithSearch Resources Available to Help You

If you have a current or anticipated need for a senior IT leader in your organization, please contact Steven Zeelau at szeelau@faithsearchpartners.comfor a confidential, no-obligation discussion to help you better understand the dynamics of the current job market, identify desired characteristics of candidates and determine ways to match the right candidate with the organization’s needs.