Best places to work provide lessons for all IT directors

This week marks the climax of Computer Weekly’s search to find the best places to work in IT 2003. The aim of the awards, to...

This week marks the climax of Computer Weekly’s search to find the best places to work in IT 2003. The aim of the awards, to celebrate the UK’s best employers of IT professionals, has struck a chord with many.

In this week’s issue, for example, Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry, acknowledges that IT is at the heart of almost everything British business does, and that the quality of the output of IT departments directly affects all workers in the UK.

Given the success of the awards, which culminated in a glittering presentation ceremony at Claridges in London, it is safe to say that our aims have not just been met but exceeded. As well as explaining the economic benefits of creating a positive workplace, we have unlocked many of the secrets of what constitutes a great place to work and how to implement them within organisations.

Every IT director will be able to learn from the success of our winners. For example, looking through the winning entries reveals a number of recurring themes common to many of the best places to work.

One example is the quality of the communication processes, both within the department and between the business and IT. This should not come as a surprise; you can have the best IT strategy in the world but if it is not widely understood or shared within the IT department, it is unlikely to succeed. Similarly, if the priorities of the business are not those of IT, then it is likely that the IT function will be perceived as failing to deliver.

A commitment to training and development was another common aspect of the winners’ strategies to create a positive workforce. Although this can have a financial cost to the business, other ideas that will not eat into your budget, such as effective delegation and mentoring, also came to the fore. The lesson here is that although developing a "best place to work" requires effort and thought, it can be achieved whatever the department’s finances.

There are many other lessons, both strategic and tactical, that can be gleaned from our winners. Over the coming weeks, we will showcase the top organisation in each category to allow other IT departments to understand how they too can become one of the best places to work in IT.

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