Ed Toner

Blog: 2016 Was a Very Good Year for the OCIO

I have come to the conclusion that 2016 was a very good year, thanks to all of you!

The start of every year, I go through the same process of reviewing what we as a team have accomplished in the outgoing year.   I indulge in surveying the road traveled because this helps me determine whether it was a good year. …And then, yes, I set add-on goals for the New Year in addition to the ones already listed on our road map (I know the leadership team will be very excited to hear about this). Once the evaluation and goal setting segment is complete, I begin some personal reflections. What did I do to influence the outcome, should I have done things differently and most importantly was I able to help others be successful?

Nebraska State Capitol BuildingDuring this self-analysis I think about all the managers I have had over my career. Some were bad, but most were good, and I learned from both what to do and what not to do. My sophomore year of high school I began working at a fast food restaurant where I learned a lot about the value of teamwork. Throughout college I worked at a hospital where I learned one very important thing that I needed to do… change my major (I was pre-med).

My first job after graduation was working as an Industrial Engineer in manufacturing. Along with my normal engineering duties I was put in charge of a team of about ten maintenance workers. I remember the Foreman of the team coming into my office for the first time and saying, “I have tools older than you”. That was simply his opening volley. He went on to say a lot worse, but I can’t print any of it. I learned much more from that team and that Foreman than they ever did from me in regards to managing people and I admit, I was not a good manager. I owe them a lot for their patience and understanding as they helped me to eventually grow into the job.

My time spent in manufacturing as an Industrial Engineer had the greatest impact on my career, not only in terms of learning how to manage but more importantly how I analyze processes. Industrial Engineers tend to look at lowering cost, increasing efficiency, increasing quality. I look at IT in the same way, so no matter what we do, we better be evaluating those three things.

Along the way of my chosen career path, I have selected traits from good managers that I try to emulate and noted traits from bad managers that I promised I would never duplicate.

Here are six qualities that I believe make a great leader and a memorable manager or mentor:

  1. Passionate about what they do, and they instill that passion in others.
  2. Crisis is an opportunity that cannot be wasted because they know that it is much easier to make major changes when things are in turmoil than when thing are going smoothly.
  3. They believe: Anything is possible if we look at goals as incremental and devise a plan. They reorganize, reshape, and re-engineer the processes that make an organization strong.
  4. People looking out a window at the Nebraska State Capitol Building

  5. Professional but human. They show appreciation for the hard work of the team and they show sincere disappointment and frustration with themselves when an objective is missed.
  6. They Take Risks not for the sake of risk, but for the advances they believe can be gained, and by their example they inspire others to take risks in order to achieve what they believe is possible.
  7. And finally, The Bus…….the leadership team knows the bus stories well. They inspire others to get on the bus (believe and support the mission and vision of change) or the bus may leave them behind. They never throw employees under the bus and they try to make sure employees never get hit by the bus. If they can’t, they may even take the hit themselves.

The New Year is always a good time for self-evaluation and I encourage each of you to take the opportunity to conduct this exercise. Not everyone can successfully (nor do many want to) make the transition from an IT professional to an IT Manager- that is up to the individual to decide. Both roles are equally important and essential, however if we are in a management role, let us ensure we emulate the traits we most admire. Memorable managers have high expectations for themselves and their teams, but they always help their teams achieve these expectations. If we are lucky, we all enjoy the journey.

As the Governor has recently expressed, “With this positive momentum at our back, let’s continue to work hard in the New Year for Nebraska taxpayers.”
As always, I appreciate your hard work and respect for the taxpayers of the State of Nebraska, which you show each and every day.


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