How Do You Prevent A Staffing Disaster Before It Happens?

by drjim on March 4, 2010

If You Are Prepared, Then You’ll Be Able To Prevent An Accident

If You Are Prepared, Then You’ll Be Able To Prevent An Accident

The Coming Disaster In Your IT Department

What do you think the mood of your IT team is right now? Poor? Downright bad? If your workplace is like most businesses out there right now, your team is still reeling from all of the layoffs, hiring freezes, pay cuts, etc. If nothing else, there has been a lingering sense of dread that has been in the air for the better part of two years. What do you need to be doing?

The Scope Of The Problem

There’s nothing physically wrong with your team, they are just really, really stressed out. What this means is that their creativity and productivity are probably at all time lows. You’re going to need to step in and do something about this situation.

I can almost hear you now: “I just don’t have time to do this right now.” Well guess what, you had better start to find the time. Otherwise you are going to find yourself buried in a wave of interviews as you try to fill all of the open positions in your department when everyone leaves.

The Conference Board has done a survey of 5,000 U.S. households (your team may not have been part of the survey, but the results probably still apply) and the results showed that only 45% were currently happy with their jobs. You’ve got a problem on you hands.

Steps You Can Take Now To Avoid Problems Later

You’ve got no budget, you’ve got no open req’s, what’s an IT manager to do when you need to cheer up your team? The good news is that there are a lot of low-cost, no-cost things that you can do that will save you much grief later on:

  • Job Titles: What are the titles of your staff? They are probably pretty boring. One thing that you can do that costs no money is to look into upgrading their titles – titles only, no promotions. Yes, you’d have to work with HR to do this, but the joy of going from “Systems Engineer IV” to “Senior Systems Engineer” can be absolutely amazing.
  • Work Time Options: Is your current team working a forced 9-5 work day? Loosing up on this can be a great no-cost way to pump some life back into the department. Yes, the work still needs to be done and yes, the company still needs to get value for the paycheck that it’s handing out; however, allowing your staff to determine when they work (including both nights and weekends) can go a long way to boosting morale and productivity. A nice side benefit of doing this is that it creates an almost entrepreneurial feeling and all of a sudden everyone becomes more willing to help each other out.
  • Bonuses: Remember when people used to get raises that were more than the cost of living? Well even though those days seem to long gone, one thing that you can do is to talk with HR and get your hands on some bonus money. Once you’ve got it, set up a bonus incentive program and just watch how everyone suddenly becomes motivated.
  • 1-on-1 Meetings: This may be the simplest of all the things that you could do – start taking the time to listen. Set up a time once a week where you’ll turn off the phone and the Instant Messaging and just talk with each staff member individually. This is a great chance for them to blow off steam, share their great new idea, or just have a chat with you. It doesn’t have to be too long – 15 minutes will do just fine.

What All Of This Means For You

As the global economy starts to improve, you as an IT Leader are going to have to start taking steps to make your beaten down staff feel special once again. If you don’t do this, then when the job market picks up, they are going to leave you.

Many of the most effective things that you can do involve low-cost or no-cost actions. Things like changing job titles, becoming more flexible with work times, or even just taking the time to listen better would all have positive results.

No matter what you decide to do, make sure that you do something. There is nothing more important for you to be spending your time on than making sure that your talented and experienced staff stay on board with you.

Question For You: In your company, what would the easiest thing be for you to do in order to boost your team’s morale?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In the life of an IT Leader, there will come the day that you find yourself in a new position. You might be working for the same company and just be in a different role or you might be starting a new job – no matter, the challenge is the same. Where do you start? It turns out that doing nothing right off the bat might be the right idea…

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