New Ways For IT Managers To Keep The Staff That You Have

by drjim on May 19, 2011

Image Credit Are Your Best Team Members Getting Ready To Fly The Coop?

Are Your Best Team Members Getting Ready To Fly The Coop?

First the bad news: it turns out that 25% of the best workers in the IT department are planning on leaving within the next 12 months. Do I have your attention now? Not to depress you even more, but it turns out that those internal job change programs that are intended to develop the next generation of IT leaders don’t work – 40% of the internal rotations that are made by IT “high-pots” (high potential) employees end up in failure. Let’s take a look at what problems you need to solve …

Problem: You Aren’t Engaging Your Best IT Workers

Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt are researchers who have been looking into what makes leadership transitions successful. What they have discovered is basically bad news for IT managers.

Among the companies that they studied, what they found is that way too many of your IT rising stars are planning on becoming leaders at other firms! Specifically, 25% are currently planning on leaving your company within one year, 33% are not fully committed to their job (slackers), 20% have different career goals than they think the company has planned for them, and 40% have little confidence in their coworkers or the company’s senior management.

Clearly you have a problem here – your best & brightest are feeling disengaged. As an IT manager you need to find ways to get them to reengage with the company and with their careers at your company.

The researchers say that you can get them to both reengage and remain at your company. However, it’s going to take both time and effort on your part. What you are going to need to do is to provide them with the one thing that they crave above all others – public recognition for the work that they are doing. On top of this, you need to find ways to integrate their actions more closely with the company. This means that the company’s goals need to become their goals and you need to find ways to allow them to help tackle the company’s biggest challenges.

Problem: High-Pot Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Good Leader

Every IT worker wants to be classified as being a high-potential worker. What does this really mean? Researchers point out that what a company really wants from its high potential workers are leaders who will be able to grow into larger jobs and then deliver results in those jobs.

Studies have shown that more than 70% of the IT workers who are classified as being “high potential” still lack critical skills that will be needed in order be successful in future bigger jobs. What this means for you as an IT manager is that you may be wasting your precious limited talent development budget and resources on the wrong people.

The researchers say that there are three characteristics that an IT manager should be looking for when trying to determine if it would be worthwhile to make further investments in a high-potential team members: ability, engagement, and aspiration.

Your best team members need to have both the hard (technical) and soft (management) skills needed to take on bigger jobs. Additionally they are going to have be engaged with both the company and its mission – if they don’t believe, they won’t be willing to help you achieve. Finally, the IT worker’s career goals, their aspirations, also need to be in line with what the company is both willing and able to provide them with.

What All Of This Means For You

The job of an IT manager actually has very little to do with technology and everything to do with developing people. Not all team members are created the same and IT managers really want to find ways to hold on to their best workers. The problem is that they aren’t doing a very good job of this.

In order to keep your best and brightest team members engaged, you are going to have to make a special effort to recognize them and work with them to make sure that what they are working on really matters to the company. Likewise, not all high-pots are created equal. Only the ones with ability, true engagement in what the company does, and aspirations that are in line with what the company can offer will be the ones who can grow into true IT leaders.

An IT manager’s most important job is to grow and nurture the next generation of IT talent that will lead the company’s IT teams. In order to do this you are going to have to invest a great deal of your time in ensuring that your best team members don’t leave. It is possible to do this, but it needs to become one of your top tasks. If you can do this correctly, then both your career and the company will benefit from it…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What percentage of an IT manager’s time should be spent on developing the company’s top IT talent?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Anyone can be placed in an IT leadership position; however, what kind of skills does it take to do a good job of being an IT leader? There are a lot of IT managers out there who would like to know the answer to that question. If you are one of them, then I’ve got good news for you – I know what you need and I’m ready to tell you…

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