Today's CIOs rarely stick around long enough to see the results of their initiatives materialize (or fail to), but this is a preventable problem.

Rather than leaving their replacements to pick up the pieces and reorganize ongoing projects, organizations should be more proactive about holding the interest of their existing CIOs. As I covered in my last post, offering competitive pay and integrating the CIO into more than just technical operations both promote a long, productive career.

Here are some additional ways to make your CIO stick.

  • Career progression: Even though a CIO has likely reached the top of their career ladder, it's natural that (in time) they'll seek out new challenges. Unfortunately for many businesses, these challenges often lie outside the organization. Businesses need to keep things interesting, identifying ways to evolve the CIO's role, and offering opportunities for them to tackle new problems. They must tailor the position to the individual’s talents and ambitions in order to harness their skills for the benefit of the organization. From having the CIO lead a new internal innovation group, to encouraging their involvement with new marketing or product development campaigns, there are a number of ways to break out of the CIO rut.
  • Succession planning: It may seem counterintuitive, but CIO succession planning can actually root a leader more deeply into a business. Mentoring new or younger IT staff and playing a larger role in corporate strategic planning (mapping the 10 or 15-year company vision), gives the CIO greater stake in a firm's future. Giving the CIO more forward-thinking duties encourages their own continuing education, motivating them to stay abreast of the emerging economic, technology and social changes that will impact the firm down the road. When it is the CIO's time to exit, the organization will be better prepared to transition the role without losing sight of its long-term goals.

Many companies today look at low retention rates as an inevitable byproduct of a fluctuating business climate. Successful companies, however, are those that won't settle for a semi-permanent CIO.

How do you keep your CIO interested in your business? What kind of planning do you already have in place for your CIO? Could you do a better job of keeping your CIO around?