I’m seeing a lot of articles and hearing many experts talk about the challenges of retaining and finding technology talent. Now you can add me to the list of people commenting on the topic.
My viewpoint isn’t particularly radical, but it’s not watered down with crowd-sourced data that fails to share the real story. I’m not cocky enough to think that my thoughts are the “real story” per se, but I think it’s just simple-minded enough to be somewhat credible.
So, if “simple-minded” and “somewhat credible” piqued your interest, let’s dive in. If not, just turn the page and read the other cool stuff in this particular rag.
For those who are still with me, I will break this into two parts – keeping your current employees and finding new ones – technology or otherwise.
THE REAL REASON EMPLOYEES LEAVE
First, let’s talk about retention. We need to stop blaming the “Big Five” tech companies for stealing all the talent. If you can’t find and retain talent, that’s on you. People quit at Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook all the time.
Why is it on you? Because people rarely leave companies, they leave their boss.
Most companies spend time conducting exit interviews, but the employee leaving is rarely honest about why. It’s uncomfortable, and most humans don’t like to hurt other human’s feelings. Departing employees often are afraid of the repercussions of being honest about their reasons for walking. They wonder if it could affect their next opportunity or fear it might burn bridges. Perhaps you’ve heard these reasons before:
“I don’t see an opportunity for career advancement.”
“I don’t care for the direction of the company.”
“I didn’t have enough work-life balance.”
“I found an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Now, there are certain times these things are true, and there are undoubtedly exiting employees who are 100% honest. For the most part, though, it’s just a cover. Think back – how many times did you leave a company where you loved your manager?
To that end, I encourage you to dig a little deeper into your retention metrics. For example, when is the last time you looked at turnover rates by leader instead of by the entire organization’s turnover numbers? It might be time.
The moral of the story is to be a better leader. Then take it one step further and make sure the other leaders you hire are being good leaders. I’m confident you can figure out how to do that. If not, there are plenty of books or people to ask.
People rarely leave companies, they leave their boss.
THE BEST RECRUITER IS YOU
Now let’s talk about how you’re attempting to find those new superstars you need in the organization. If you can’t find good people, I believe that’s on you. Companies are finding good people, and some organizations aren’t even complaining about the war on talent.
That’s because they’re winning.
Those companies are doing things differently, though.
Firstly, they invest internally in high-quality recruiters to draw the candidates to the doorstep. Are you? Or are you depending on the same old HR tactics to find your next gem? A better option might be using partners who make their living finding and convincing people it’s time for a change – and that change is finding employment at your company.
Secondly, the companies getting people through the front door are acting fast and not dragging their feet to move candidates through the hiring funnel. I’ve heard it before, ‘Well, we have a process for doing things, and we have to follow our process.’ That’s all fine and dandy if you’re getting the people you need! If not, your process probably sucks, and you should change it.
Whoever acts quickest will get the best talent, and that’s a fact. For the sake of argument, though, let’s just say you act fast, not irresponsibly or knee-jerk, but the person doesn’t work out because they misrepresented themselves.
Then fire them.
Paralysis by analysis will leave you in the dust, especially in the technology industry. It’s still important to measure twice and cut once when bringing in people who can help move the needle. But, geez, let’s not stand on the dock and watch all the cool boats go by because you’re afraid they might run you into an iceberg.
Lastly, the best recruiter in the entire chain of getting the right butt in the right seat is you, the person who will lead them. The recruiter can be the best in the business, and your company can have the best benefits and the most incredible culture, but that stuff is just the icing on the cake. If they are going to work for you, they have to feel like you are someone worth working for, or they simply won’t hang their shingle in your shop.
As their potential boss, you have to be the closer. Be prepared with the answer as to why working for you will be the best decision they ever made; otherwise, you will be the candidate looking for your next job.
When Concord used to sell staff augmentation back in the early 2000s, I would tell our hiring managers, ‘Hey, I can bring you good talent, but you have to close them – the reality is they will be working for you.’ Those who listened landed the best talent to help them get their projects to the finish line.
Anyway, I just wanted to provide a dose of honesty. I hope this gets you thinking about how you can win the war on talent. It ain’t rocket science.
Good luck with your strategies for retention and attracting new employees. The good news is you don’t have to go very far – you already hold the answer!
Concord is a technology consulting firm. We solve the most challenging problems industry-leading companies face today through data modernization, cloud migration, digital transformation, and product engineering. In a nutshell, we get sh*t done.