The no. 1 obstacle keeping CIOs globally from achieving their objectives? Talent, according to a recent Gartner survey. And the biggest talent gaps are around information, including big data, analytics, and information management, followed by business acumen, Gartner found.
To win the IT talent war, businesses must start by building an IT talent brand, according to Dan Roberts, CEO of Ouellette & Associates Consulting and author of Unleashing the Power of IT: Bringing People, Business, and Technology Together. In a session at the 2017 Midmarket CIO Forum in Savannah, GA, Roberts explained that all companies have this brand, whether they recognize it or not. If that brand is strong, you are attracting top talent, developing it, and retaining it.
"The talent war is very real, and is going to get even more crazy in the next few years," Roberts told TechRepublic after the session. "Those people who are more proactive with talent initiatives and doing something different are going to win, because those with the better talent are going to win this disruptive game we're in."
Here are five tips from Roberts to help your IT organization build a better talent brand.
Employees are always seeking more clarity in their role, and in their future at the company, Roberts said. Only 36% of people working in tech feel that they have a clear career path, versus 50% of people working in fields such as marketing and finance, according to a survey from TINYPulse.
High-potential young employees want regular feedback and career progression advice, not just one-and-done annual reviews, according to research from Josh Bersin of Deloitte. "They need at least monthly conversations," Roberts said.
Most organizations do not keep strong data on employees, Roberts said, making it difficult to make better decisions about people.
One way to track talent is to create heat maps with core competencies and the strengths and weaknesses of each employee, Roberts said. That way, CIOs can better tailor development opportunities. "We have to be more laser-focused on training and mentoring," Roberts said, since most companies do not have time to address every possible issue at once.
3. Learning agility
IT organizations need to create a learning culture, wherein employees have more ownership over their own development, and are not waiting for a manager to tell them what to do. Otherwise, they risk falling behind, Roberts said.
One way to do this is to choose a core competency, such as business acumen, communication skills, or project management, and work with your team on that particular skill over the course of time. You can start small, with one or two skills, and continue adding more.
Organizations with a strong learning culture are 92% more likely to develop novel products and processes, according to the TINYPulse survey. They are also more productive, and have far higher employee engagement rates, the survey found.
4. Employee engagement
According to a recent Gallup poll, employee engagement is at its highest point in history—30%. That means 70% of the workforce is disengaged, Roberts said.
As the war for talent becomes more challenging year over year, this is an important factor for CIOs to consider, Roberts added, as your best team members are likely getting inundated with calls from recruiters and other companies trying to lure them away. Disengagement costs US organizations between $450 billion and $550 billion per year, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
One way to keep employees active within the organization is by setting up regular individual talks with them, Roberts said. "Simple one-on-ones with managers around career, personal development, and professional development really drive more engagement within the company," he added.
5. Navigating internal mobility
When employees are in the same role for a long period of time, they may become a flight risk, so you need to move them into other places where they can learn and grow, Roberts said.
It's important for CIOs to change their leadership style to adapt to the needs of the younger workforce, Roberts said. Millennials are not going to be with the same company, or in the same career, for 30 years, he added—but it is possible to give them multiple careers within your company. Being proactive about this and considering younger employees to be a flight risk after one year is a way to help them shop for their next job within the company, Roberts added.
"Those organizations that are doing a better job at fostering internal mobility, moving people into new opportunities, are having great success with engagement," Roberts said.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.