Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, your company is stacked with talent; that is, at least for your sake I hope so. I jest, but honestly I’m confident you as a People Operations champion of your company know well the level of talent within your organization and its potential. The days of yore when people would work in one job are long gone, that ended even before my time, and now we operate in challenging times.
The challenge I refer to is the ability to provide your company’s top talent with enough opportunities to ensure they remain engaged. Young workers are more keen to explore their own limits and push themselves to succeed. Your organization needs to be aware of this and respond in a proactive manner, or risk losing your talented staff to companies that will offer them what they seek.
Considering this quandary, herein I’d like to recount my experiences and methods of addressing the talent mobility issue in the tech industry. Software engineers, like many others in various professions, are talented and ambitious, looking to be engaged and given opportunities to grow personally and professionally. So let’s dive in to see how we can keep your engineers engaged.
Retention of Top Talent
Congratulations on hiring some of the leading talent in the industry for your company; that is no small feat. However, now you need to ensure they are engaged and have a clear selection of opportunities for them. Retaining this talent, especially in the tech industry, is vital as companies seek to attract the best of the best in a very competitive labor market. Don’t think your engineers won’t consider jumping ship when given a more intriguing offer elsewhere.
Traditional methods of retention have struggled to land with the young generation of workers; money can only buy you so much and will always fail to buy you true loyalty. Competitive compensation is a good start, but it is just that, only a start. You must aim to provide opportunities for your engineers to develop new skills, experience working on a variety of projects, and explore new career paths. All of this can aid in retaining top talent for long-term employment.
Talent mobility can benefit both employers and employees by promoting innovation, collaboration, and personal & professional growth. By allowing employees to move into various departments within your organization, experiencing distinct areas of the business, can help foster a culture of learning and development.
For example, consider a situation of giving a member of the Business Development team the opportunity to step into a Product Owner/Project Manager role for an internal project. This would allow for the BD member, who is typically laser focused on sales and client relations, the opportunity to cut their teeth on a different part of the business. Through this experience, they will be challenged, their skills will grow along with their understanding of the business and the work that goes on behind the scenes of client facing sales.
Another example, directly from us here at Slash, is that of our Community of Practices (CoP) and Agile Squad. This squad’s mission is to identify and develop internal talent for leadership roles which is vital in the tech industry which often suffers from having too many devs and not enough leads. Our CoP team works closely with the core engineering teams to identify the strengths and aspirations of team members in order to set them on a path to develop and grow their abilities. We practice what we preach here!
Talent Focused Organization
Alright, now that we’re on the same page with retaining your top talent, let’s consider some organizational changes so you can be more talent focused. Of course, every company aims to recruit the best talent money can buy, right? Naturally yes, but remember you’re competing with an ocean of other organizations, many of which can out bid you when it comes to salary. Recall what I mentioned above about how the younger generation is less moved by money than they are by opportunity.
Slash has worked to develop a company that focuses on staff growth. We understand that by growing the professional abilities of our staff, the company will grow in turn; through their talent we can prosper. Therefore, we offer a variety of training and development programs to support talent growth and mobility. This includes mentorship programs, project allocation programs, certifications and leadership development programs with an Agile approach. These are all designed to help teams gain new skills and experiences, and prepare them for new roles within the company. If we want them to lead in the future, we must ensure their growth today. This level of employee investment will always reap greater benefits than simply throwing money at them ever will. Moreover, the company culture and values it instills will create an organization where people want to work and are willing to line up and wait to get a chance to join.
Point of Consideration
Nothing in life comes without challenges or a few bumps in the road; a few scrapes along the way builds character. Performance evaluations and appraisals can be tricky, but if done right, bolster your organization’s culture and values. It’s important to choose an appraisal system that provides accurate and constructive feedback, encourages continuous improvement, and leaders must help in identifying the team’s growth and complexity. For instance, an approach of 360-degree feedback, goal-based evaluation or self-assessment can be useful. Ensure your top talent has a balanced personal and professional growth journey; nothing good comes from anything that is too fast or too sudden.
In the end, a measured talent mobility strategy that stems from a low-hierarchical, people and growth oriented company can promote learning and development. This is what we strive to do every day at Slash, encouraging all our talented staff to explore new career paths, and create a culture of innovation and collaboration previously thought not possible within the tech industry. To be a leader, you must defeat the odds and show that the impossible is possible!
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