Bad boss, bad morale

Anyone who has ever quit a job will tell you: Good workers leave bad managers, not bad jobs or bad companies.

“Direct managers have a huge impact on the morale of an IT employee,” says Steve Scott, CIO at Vision Service Plan, an eye care insurer in Rancho Cordova, Calif. At the same time, he acknowledges that by nature, many technology professionals simply aren’t natural people managers.

“IT often has this situation where people who are managers are certainly enthused about technology, which makes it easier for them to focus on that rather than on (people) management and leadership skills,” Scott says.

That’s why Scott has all 23 of his IT managers participate in monthly meetings devoted to management and leadership issues. Also, Scott meets twice monthly with IT staffers as a means of giving them direct and regular access to the company’s top IT executive.

“I meet with 15 to 20 employees, and I buy them lunch. I spend about five minutes giving them a high-level overview, and then we open it up to discussion and their questions,” Scott says.

But how well does it all work to boost morale and keep employees happy? VSP ranked No. 3 on the Computerworld (U.S.) 2004 Best Places to Work list. But the better measure comes from employees themselves.

“There is great emphasis upon keeping employees informed and engaged in all aspects of their jobs and key actions that affect the company,” says an IT employee at VSP. “I find that VSP is truly exceptional in this regard.”

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