Recently, I had a conversation with a CIO of a thriving, innovative company (who sought anonymity), on talent acquisition for companies. He confessed that this was his biggest hurdle but was also at the top of his list. He said:“I need a few senior architects. Note that I didn’t say good senior architects. I gave up finding good ones months ago. I’d settle for a few mediocre ones – do you know any who are in the market?”
Even with unemployment hovering close to 10 percent in many countries, (Kenya at 11.475%), a remarkable number of CIOs and CTOs have a hard time finding and retaining the talent necessary to not only extract value from investments in such areas as big data and enterprise mobility, but also undertake everyday IT operations with the required quality, security and efficiency. These executives also struggle to get the most out of their existing talent.
Interestingly, companies that heavily outsource technology wrestle with these talent challenges just as much as those that do not; outsourcing changes technology talent requirements but does not diminish the same. This is of critical concern to technology leaders. Fortunately, experiences of working with leading IT organizations show that these leaders do have a number of high-impact levers that can be used to develop, retain, and recruit talent.
Developing and retaining talent
Integrating new talent in an organization costs money and, more importantly, is time-consuming and risky. Screening candidates, conducting interviews, negotiating employment terms, and getting a new hire up to speed in a role takes quite some while; months on end, even for a midlevel manager. Therefore, the first imperative in winning the war for technology talent is to develop and retain the team at have.
Market reports from various leading organizations indicate the deployment of a range of other approaches to develop and retain technology talent. They include:
Rotating high performers, Making trainings less technical, Ensuring senior exposure, Supporting technology passions and Facilitating outside exposure.
Augmenting talent externally
Developing and retaining existing talent is important, but it is never enough. Skills and capabilities required to play key roles may not exist internally, and opportunities to upgrade talent always exist; new blood brings fresh ideas and perspectives into a technology organization. As such, sourcing talent externally is also critical. Naturally, great recruiting capabilities are a must, but there are also specific actions that IT organizations have found particularly useful.
- Get an unvarnished picture of future needs and current capabilities.A technology talent strategy has to start with insight into needs: will there be large investments in multichannel customer care? Which is a bigger priority: business innovation or quality and efficiency of IT delivery and how current recruiting and career-development processes work or don’t work.
- Develop a heat map of priorities.To focus efforts, leading organizations develop a heat map that shows the gaps between business needs and current skills, as well as risks related to those gaps. Moreover, the heat map should be informed by the trends in the market and their impact on the availability of talent in the near future.
3. Map levers to needs, taking constraints into account.Not every lever is appropriate to every situation. Board exposure will motivate senior leaders but will not increase retention in a frontline data-center operations team. In many cases, opening a new location or making an acquisition may not be feasible. Getting the right strategy in place requires systematically determining which potential levers will address each talent gap and risk.
- Track and reinforce progress.To make sure the required everyday behavior changes occur, progress must be tracked against a set of metrics and syndicated with senior leaders who can resolve issues and accelerate progress.
The right technology talent can be hard to find. Executives can learn from the ways in which leading IT organizations develop, recruit and retain good people in their enterprises. During the CIO 100 Annual Symposium and Award happening at the Enashipai Resort in Naivasha on the 29th and 30th November 2018, top notch IT leaders will deliberate on the critical ways aligning great talents.