Finding and Retaining IT Talent

By Larry Bonfante

By Larry Bonfante

At a time when unemployment is so high I find it interesting that many of us still have a challenging time finding skilled people to join our teams. Talent acquisition and retainment are critical components to ensuring sustainable success. Here are a few ideas on how to find and keep quality people.

First, take an innovative look at where you are searching for quality employees. Have you worked with talented people in your organization who are outside of the IT department? These are people who you already have a track record of success in working with, who already get the corporate culture, who have strong relationships within the business units they work in, and who you’ve had a long audition with. Depending on the role you are recruiting for, if they show a predisposition to technology it may make sense to recruit them and train them on the technical nuances of the position. Also, many IT executives and executive search professionals adhere to a very rigid set of guidelines when recruiting new talent. Not only do they want someone with 20 years in the financial industry, they want 20 years of experience in derivatives! Do we really need to be this inflexible? Perhaps there is value in bringing in someone from a different industry who can act as a fresh set of eyes. If you are working in a B2C environment, someone from a consumer goods company could add value based upon their experience with direct consumer engagement.

When it comes to retaining quality people, nothing is more important than having them work for a manger they respect and feel has their best interests at heart. Are your managers taking the time to reward and recognize their people? Do they take the development of their people seriously as a top priority? Are they promoting their people’s efforts and exposing them to new opportunities and ways of contributing? Are you moving your people around to support different client groups and learn about different parts of the company and the industry? Are you exposing them to people and opportunities outside the company, such as conferences and industry events, where they can meet new people and learn new things?

Also, are you individualizing the way you manage people and creating a personal value proposition for each team member? Perhaps a member of your team has a two-hour commute (not unheard on in New York!). Maybe you can allow her to work from home twice a week. Perhaps someone on your team has a child with special medical needs. Maybe you can create a flexible work schedule so that he can attend his child’s therapy sessions. Maybe someone on your team is a diehard soccer fan. How about letting him or her leave early on Wednesdays so that they can attend their kid’s soccer games? Different things matter to different people. Are you personalizing the work opportunities for each of your people?

At the end of the day, your people are your most valuable asset. Are you treating them that way or taking them for granted?

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.

This article was originally published on 02-15-2013