Once you have selected a successor, let the person know. Even if you don't think you'll need a replacement in the near future, you still want time to provide adequate training. Also, if you keep silent, the person may not realize she is potentially on an upward career track and could decide to look for advancement opportunities at another company.
Assuming she is interested, give her exposure to assignments and situations that are common in the CIO role. For instance, you might ask her to join you in executive meetings or serve as the lead advisor on a financial systems conversion at your company. The more practice she gets with project management, negotiation and communication, the easier it will be to transition into the senior position.
Meet with your successor on a regular basis to review expectations and provide feedback. Be sure to set measurable goals, such as completing classes in systems planning and personnel management at a local university by the end of the year. This will help him develop skills and provide a method of evaluating whether he is meeting your requirements.
If you don't expect him to assume your role for some time, you may want to provide financial incentives, perks and smaller promotions to recognize accomplishments. This can help keep him motivated in working toward the long-term opportunity.
Grooming a successor can help ensure an easier transition time, whether someone is substituting for you temporarily or becoming the new CIO permanently. Select your protigi carefully and provide adequate training and feedback. You'll have the internal talent in place to keep your IT department functioning appropriately at all times.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at Robert Half Technology.