IT directors have a unique overview of the strategy and business processes that drive their organisation they know how to create business value through innovation and they are masters at dealing effectively with organisational change.
So what does it take to get their peers in the business to recognise and value their contribution? That is the core question addressed in a new series of relationship management workshops for IT directors. They are being run by the Computer Weekly 500 Club in partnership with development consultancy Management Arts, and will start on 30 January 2007.
"IT directors need to adopt different approaches to relationships, depending on whether they are influencing their business peers, persuading their internal IT staff, or interfacing with their external suppliers," said Shirley Redpath, principal of Management Arts, who will be facilitating the workshops.
She added that the half-day workshops, which can be combined with one-on-one coaching sessions, are aimed at focusing IT directors on building effective relationships with the individuals who make an impact on the organisation.
"IT directors have a unique set of skills and insights," said Redpath. "We will be working with small groups of IT directors from the user community to identify how they can ensure that they leverage these skills effectively within the business."
Computer Weekly managing editor John Riley, who set up the 500 Club in 1993, said, "The success of the 500 Club has demonstrated the value to IT directors of networking within a peer group community.
"We are now building on this, with the help of our members, through a series of focused, facilitated, discussion workshops to demonstrate that it is within each individual to convince their business peers that they have a rightful place at the top table.
"IT directors are the people who bring innovation into their organisations, make it happen and make change work - so it is a paradox that they are often regarded as being on the wrong side of the fence.
"But it is wrong to assume that it is the business that is out of step - IT directors themselves have a role to play in changing those perceptions.
"We often encounter a climate of negativity in this area, so we put our heads together with 500 Club IT director members to turn the issues on their head and come up with a positive and fresh approach to this age-old issue."
The workshops aim to help IT directors conduct an audit of their interpersonal relationships, with a view to enabling better business value. This will help map and identify the preconditions and the practice of creating business value from IT.
In recent months headhunters and developmental consultants have called for a better understanding by IT directors of how to bridge the communications gap.
Headhunter Simon La Fosse is director of the CIO practice at recruitment firm Harvey Nash. Speaking at the City IT conference in November, he said IT directors should double the amount they spend on interpersonal skills training and more effort is needed to address the communications gap between CIOs, their teams and the wider business.
"In many firms, there is still too little empathy shown by IT towards end-users," he said.
For more information, e-mail Georgina Tucker at Computer Weekly