IT TALENT MANAGEMENT FOR MID-MARKET COMPANIES

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1 IT TALENT MANAGEMENT FOR MID-MARKET COMPANIES

2 FOR IT DEPARTMENTS, CONNECTING WITH TOP TALENT IS CRITICAL In the rapidly evolving world of business, hiring and maintaining a competent IT department is essential for organizations of all sizes. With a facile and adaptable IT department in place, companies can improve the flow of communication, augment productivity and ultimately boost the bottom line. A strong IT department is also a great way to ensure your company is ready to mitigate emerging trends and seize opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, many mid-market companies organizations with 100 to 1,000 employees are finding this critical task to be a tremendous challenge. That s because they are operating with limited resources in the face of changing consumer and employee expectations, and in an economy that yields new obstacles every day. Already stretched to the limit, these organizations often don t have the ability to solidify their IT functions. There is some good news, however, in the fact that the rocky economy has displaced a lot of top IT talent, making it easier for mid-market companies to recruit and hire these professionals. Once these resources are hired, the issue then becomes retaining talented new hires and not losing them to companies with deeper pockets. 2

3 A UNIVERSAL CHALLENGE. AND A UNIVERSAL APPROACH. All organizations share similar challenges with regards to building an IT department equipped to handle the changing landscape. But no matter how much things in the business world change, there is one constant when it comes to hiring: Having the right person in the right position is key to ensuring business success. An IT workforce comprised of professionals with the necessary skills to advance your organization to upgrade from intranet to cloud, to transform from Web to Web 2.0 and to evolve from socially disconnected to social media stalwart can cut operating costs, increase efficiency and improve your financial performance. Furthermore, hiring the right employees and cultivating a corporate culture that embraces the advantages of working in a smaller environment will enhance employee retention and with it, ROI. Those IT professionals accustomed to operating in more regimented, inflexible and frustrating environments inherent in larger companies will appreciate having more autonomy, greater control over their responsibilities, increased exposure to different jobs and the ability to really drive the direction, vision and strategy of a mid-market company. Therefore, the best metric for hiring success can be defined as quality of fill. Hiring the right employee the first time can be one of the most cost-effective practices a business can invest in. THE HIGH COST OF HIRING THE WRONG PERSON In the past, many businesses relied on a hit-ormiss collection of IT hiring practices that would ultimately prove costly. There are significant hard and soft expenses generated by unnecessary employee turnover, including: resulting in loss of productivity and processing applications fully trained Your business can avoid costs associated with excessive and costly employee loss due to bad hiring decisions by adopting a best practices approach. 3

4 BEST PRACTICES IN IT HIRING Every company, regardless of industry, is looking for candidates with a few basic qualities, including commitment to the job and to the company, ability to perform the necessary duties, job satisfaction and smooth integration with the existing team. CONNECT WITH THE RIGHT CANDIDATES The first step towards a best practice approach is attracting quality applicants and the key to finding the perfect employee is to cast the widest possible net. This means putting some time and effort into recruitment ads and posting them on job boards heavily trafficked by IT workers. Job postings should be appealing, clearly define the role and communicate the business culture and core values. In addition, the language and style of job postings should reflect the target market. A well-crafted job posting will serve to narrow the field while attracting viable candidates who are qualified and enthusiastic. CLEARLY DEFINE THE JOB PROFILE It may sound obvious, but successful organizations generate job profiles that go beyond a basic overview of the position. To enhance your job profiles, solicit input from executives and key stakeholders and use that information to clearly delineate the objectives for the position and the skills necessary to accomplish those objectives. From there, you can build a comprehensive job profile that effectively and accurately communicates the experience, skills and personality traits of the ideal candidate. SCREEN APPLICATIONS USING TECHNOLOGY In addition to traditional online applications, implement an online survey to help screen applicants and narrow the field. In a down economy, a job opening can attract thousands of hopefuls. Sorting them out by hand is both time-consuming and inefficient. Develop a list of keywords that can be used to find specific talents and skills. SOURCE FROM WITHIN The Information Technology community is heavily networked. Post jobs for internal recommendations and offer a referral bonus. Promoting from within helps build cohesion while maintaining good employee relations. PREPARE INTERVIEWERS The IT department, by definition, requires personnel with strong technical expertise. Ensure that your interviewers ask comprehensive questions that address the specific needs of the position. BEHAVIORAL EVENT QUESTIONS The current trend in interviewing shifts focus from a dry recitation of skills to cognitive experience questions. These types of questions are open-ended and experience-based. Good examples of behavioral event questions include describe a situation where you were faced with a server malfunction, and tell me about a time when your team implemented a major software upgrade. DEVELOP A STANDARD SET OF ASSESSMENT CRITERIA Make a list of preferred qualities and skills for each position, and assess each applicant as to how well they meet the criteria. This is especially important when the hiring process involves a series of interviews. MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION Even after a detailed interview procedure, many hiring managers often go with gut instinct to make a decision. Though this may be human nature, it does not always produce the best employee. It is more important to make a qualitative and quantitative decision based on the information you have painstakingly gathered. Narrow the choice down to just a few candidates and select the individual best suited to the position. 4

5 METRICS OF EVALUATION Information gathered during a traditional interview has been shown to be the least effective criteria for hiring. Education and job experience are not always adequate variables in fully assessing a candidate s aptitude for an IT position. While education serves as a foundation for IT knowledge, every IT degree is obsolete almost before the ink on the certification is dry. Education is a start, but the real value of an IT employee is in creativity and the ability to adapt to emerging technologies. The one thing an IT professional cannot be is stuck in the past. PSYCHOMETRIC ASSESSMENTS Psychometric assessments evaluate job placement suitability beyond basic skills, yielding more detailed insight into the thought process of job prospects. Designed to measure personality, intelligence and cognitive ability, psychometric assessments were originally introduced as a tool for educational psychologists. Today they are commonly used in business application procedures. PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS Personality is an important consideration in the workplace. IT departments are a team that must work together and interact with every member of the organization. Clashing personalities within a department decrease job satisfaction for all concerned, creating a workplace that is neither cohesive nor productive. Personality tests use questions about thoughts, feelings and behavior to build a pattern of predictable behavior models. Aptitude tests are designed to measure intellectual and cognitive reasoning ability. There are several categories of aptitude tests: There are thousands of aptitude tests on the market. The best approach is to choose a test to administer that is targeted to the type of work identified in the job profile. 5

6 1 BEST PRACTICES IN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Once you ve hired an agile IT workforce, the challenge shifts to effective employee engagement. To protect your investment and get the greatest return on that investment, engagement is the key. According to Gallup s Employee Engagement brochure, The world s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives business outcomes. Research shows that engaged employees are more productive employees. They are more profitable, more customer-focused, safer and more likely to withstand temptations to leave the organization. Innovative companies that manage to engage both potential hires and existing employees reap benefits measured in performance, productivity and profits. During times of high unemployment rates, companies often make the mistake of seeing employees as expendable, focusing their energies on preserving profits as opposed to reinforcing corporate culture or enhancing employee communications. Assuming that employees will not leave because jobs are hard to find is a mistake. Top talent is always in demand, and employees who feel undervalued are less productive and more likely to move on. Here are some tips to improve employee retention > 2 3 REINFORCE YOUR CORPORATE IDENTITY When employees are hired, they come in with an expectation of the corporate identity, goals and work environment. The closer this picture is to the reality, the more likely the employee is to be satisfied that the job is a good fit. Make your corporate identity an integral part of daily operations. TRAINING A critical aspect of employee retention is making sure your workforce feels valued. An environment with ongoing training, skill development and knowledge sharing fosters the highest level of employee engagement. MANAGEMENT Employee dissatisfaction is often tied to poor management. To alleviate this issue, companies should institute manager training programs that stimulate engagement and further learning. Training managers in the areas of retention and engagement leadership competencies has been proven to greatly enhance employee engagement and retention. 6

7 4 5 6 COMPENSATION Offering performance-based compensation in the form of productivity bonuses, perks, vacation days or other incentives has been shown to increase job satisfaction and employee engagement, which results in lower attrition. Incentive compensation should be tailored to employee interests and needs. Motivations are rooted in personality, age and lifestyle; what appeals to some may not be effective motivation for others. To provide effective motivators on all levels, solicit input from the employees themselves. COMMUNICATION Arguably, communication is the most important component of employee engagement. In a shaky economy, rumors abound. It is vital to the health of your business to keep lines of communication open to dispel fears and speculation, especially during times of frequent layoffs. When employees are worried about job security, employee engagement plummets. During these uncomfortable periods, the best practices of employee engagement are crucial. FEEDBACK The final aspect of employee engagement is employee feedback. Solicit employee opinion and suggestions though interactive online surveys and polls as well as conversational meetings. Employee feedback can help employers gain a dynamic perspective of employee ideas, wants, goals and career expectations. Once solicited, management must act on the information in order to make a difference. Managers who fail to act on employee feedback lose credibility and send a message to employees that they are neither respected nor valued. A FLEXIBLE APPROACH GENERATES THE BEST RESULTS A one-size-fits-all approach to hiring, engaging and retaining an IT workforce is no longer acceptable in today s market. Effective hiring and management practices require flexibility and must take into account the multi-generational makeup of the workforce and the many challenges that this dynamic engenders. Best practices call for engaging members of each generation differently while targeting communications to both individuals and groups. The goal is to foster an atmosphere that promotes ideas and creativity from everyone in the workforce, ultimately raising employee satisfaction throughout your organization. The reward is a motivated IT department that can reinforce the backbone of your organization. An engaged IT staff of competent, well-matched employees will take pride in their work and improve productivity and profitability for the entire company. In the long run, investing time and effort into hiring the right people translates to an impressive ROI. 7

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