Dealing With High Worker Expectations Requires Real IT Leadership

by drjim on September 3, 2009

IT Leaders Need To Take A New Look At How They Hire<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" about="http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/2962194797/"><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=Can we talk frankly for just a moment? Who’s really in charge in IT departments when it comes to hiring and retaining new talent? You’d think that with the global recession, companies would have the upper hand. However, with the critical importance of IT solutions to existing company operations and increasing global competition, it’s possible that firms need IT workers more than IT workers need the firm. What’s an IT leader to do?

My, How Things Have Changed!

How did we get to where we are today? It wasn’t all that long ago that you could land a job in a company’s IT department right out of college and then expect to spend either your entire career there or at least the next 10 years if you chose to do so. Those days are now long gone.

Instead, what we are dealing with today is workers who view their current jobs (or job opportunities) as relatively short lived events. The experts tell us that everyone needs to expect to have between 10-12 different jobs during our IT careers. This new mindset makes it much harder for IT Leaders to recruit and retain the top IT talent that they need to move their teams forward faster.

New Solutions For IT Leaders

I’ve been hearing a lot IT managers lamenting the current state of recruiting top tier talent lately. To them I say “get over it“. Look, the world is the way that it is and there’s nothing that either you or I can do about it.

If new hires to your IT department are going to view their job as a temporary stop on their career journey, then fine – work with it. This simply means that you need to change how you manage your team.

In the past, IT managers were content to allow workers to “niche” and become experts in one particular area. No more. Cross-training of every member of your team should be among your highest priorities. This will benefit your team members because they will pick up new skills and won’t get bored doing the same job over and over again. You’ll benefit because when a team member decides to leave, the loss won’t be quite as painful as it could be.

IT Leaders also need to looking for tomorrow’s IT leaders. A benefit of having a great deal of turnover in your teams is that you’ll have a chance to evaluate a greater number of IT workers for future leadership positions. Those who have the necessary skills, are the ones that you need to give additional responsibilities to. By doing this, you just might convince them to stick around a bit longer…

Final Thoughts

The world has changed and IT Leaders need to change along with it. Coming to the realization that we can’t hope to keep team members for extended periods of time means that we need to change how we hand out assignments and how we search for tomorrow’s IT management talent. If you can adjust how your manage your teams to deal with they way that the world really is,  then you will have found a way to transform yourself from an IT manager into a true leader.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Jeff Vance over at Sandstorm Media talked with me to get some inputs for an article that he was writing. Jeff did a very good job of capturing a lot of what makes our job so hard to do…

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Oleg September 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I want to add that rotating members of the team across different projects allows them to pick up marketable diversified skills. Part of the reason people leave for new jobs is because they get anxious about their skills becoming too specialized to their project. Alternatively, the anxiety can kick in when one starts finding out that they are not developing marketable skills.

My point is this. At least as far as I am concerned I can stay at one employer for a long time as long as I feel secure enough that my skills are marketable outside of it and that they are up to date.

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