How To Keep Your Team From Leaving As The Economy Improves

by drjim on January 21, 2010

Your Team Is Going To Be Jumping Ship If You Don’t Do Something

Your Team Is Going To Be Jumping Ship If You Don’t Do Something

I don’t want to say that it’s been easy to be an IT Leader during the recent global economic crisis. However, as the world economy tanked and countless people in all industries lost their jobs, the one thing that IT Leaders really didn’t have to worry about was having members of their team jump ship to go to work for other firms – there were no other jobs to be had. Well as the economy improves, this is going to change. Got a plan for keeping your team on board?

Don’t They Love Me? Why Would They Leave?

I’ve got an ugly history lesson for you – the experts tell us that when we’ve had a recession in the past, it’s during the recovery that you’ll see a big increase in people leaving your company for other career opportunities as more and more jobs become available.

So what’s an IT Leader to do? The last thing that any one of us really wants to do is to provide our staff with the skills and training that will boost their ability (and desirability) to leave. However, that’s exactly what we should be doing.

The Big Secret

Dr. Elizabeth Craig has been looking into this issue and she has made some surprising findings. What she’s found is that the members of your team will stay longer if you actively work to provide them with the very skills that they are looking for to make themselves more valuable in the job market.

Specifically, what Dr. Craig says is that the IT Leaders who provide the members of their team with the most opportunities to increase their value in the marketplace will get the greatest benefit by doing so. This breakthrough realization is something that too few IT Leaders fully understand.

The Three Secrets To Retaining Your Team

As an IT Leader, you need to start to take action to retain your team before it’s too late. There are three specific steps that you can take:

  1. Grant New Responsibilities: especially in the world of IT, your team members really do want to be challenged. In surveys, team members reported that having the ability to work on tough problems and being given more responsibility are the #1 things that determines their level of career satisfaction.
  2. Boost Skills: look, you’ve got smart people working as a part of your team right now. They realize that they don’t know everything, but they have an unquenchable desire to learn more. You need to do what you can to help sate this need by providing your team with ways that they can learn more about things that are outside of their day-to-day jobs. In IT this especially includes providing the opportunity to learn more about how the company works and the basic underpinnings of business.
  3. Networking: the ability to reach out and connect with others both inside and outside of the company is another critical desire on the part of your team members. Sure, their motivation may be to primarily build connections that could help them find their next job, but it will also help them gain fresh insights into how to solve the problems that they are working on right now.

What All Of This Means For You

When we were all children, one of the games that we used to play was called musical chairs. It involved constantly finding a new chair to sit in. As the global economy improves, the desire to play musical careers will start to seize your team and you could end up losing a lot of them.

It’s difficult and costly to replace critical staff. You need to start taking action right now to retain your team. This means that you’ve got to provide them with new responsibilities, opportunities to broaden their skills, and ways to connect with more people both inside and outside of the company.

This all may seem counterintuitive to you – it’s almost as though you are helping them to prepare to leave. However, this is not the case. It turns out that if you provide them with what they are truly looking for in their career, then although they could leave, they won’t.

Do you think that member of your team are going to leave once better opportunities start to show up?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

No matter how sophisticated we make security technology, it’s always going to be a hacker’s personal skills that we’ll be battling against. This leads to another interesting point: just exactly what personal skills do IT Leaders need to have in order to do their (non-hacking) jobs well?

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