How Do You Find and Keep Great IT Staff?

How Do You Find and Keep Great IT Staff?

We have been asked, many times: How do you guys find such great people?  I must admit the question comes as a surprise. Doesn’t everyone hire great people?  No doubt they try, but perhaps they don’t always succeed. In our experience, it comes down to three things. 

We work in a very specialised area – IT project delivery, and all that that entails in today’s rapidly changing world. We know our world very well. Together with the other members of our leadership team, we bring a lot of knowledge to the selection and interview process, and we continue to manage and support our consultants once they’re on board/on assignment.

1. Experience Guides the Hiring Process

When it comes to knowing where to look for great people and how to recognise them when you find them, it’s important to know the industry, have the technical knowledge and business acumen that includes people, process and change management. It certainly helps if you are well connected, with experience across a range of environments, industries and verticals.

Knowledge, networks and experience will make a real difference during the selection and interview process, especially when hiring targeted resources to deliver projects or a particular technology, to a tight deadline. That’s why today project managers are turning to small, agile consultancies, and away from the large resource-hiring firms. Another reason is that the consultancy resource will have QA built in, with oversight provided by the consultancy itself.

2. A Supportive Environment from the Top-Down

A consultant working with Envisian undertakes the work and the project management independent of vendors and client-side internal politics and with the backing of the Senior Team. This includes support in the form of advice, mentoring, technology guidance and assistance navigating organisational and project politics. Our consultants are also encouraged to participate in knowledge sharing with the rest of the team, and of course turn to trusted peers among the Envisian team for advice and operational support. This has a positive follow-on effect for our clients, who benefit from the experience, expertise and problem-solving capabilities of the group.

3. It’s Our Responsibility

You find great people by knowing your stuff and you keep them by taking responsibility for that hire. You don’t say good-bye once the consultant is placed within the client’s environment. We need to maintain a level of oversight and quality control on behalf of the client, and we are ultimately responsible for the deliverables. We can’t leave our consultant in there, high and dry, to do it all on their own. Bearing high level responsibility, rather than shifting 100% of it to the consultant’s shoulders, improves everyone’s experience overall.

Supportive Leadership and Taking Responsibility, in Action

I recently stepped in to assist with a client project, when one of our consultants ran into seemingly insurmountable roadblocks. This was in a particularly political and high-pressure environment, where the consultant felt there was no way to deal with the issue without creating backlash and recriminations.

The consultant didn’t cause the issue in question, but the project was significantly delayed by it and he justifiably felt responsible to the client for potential impacts and further delays.

As it turned out, I was able to assist in identifying an alternative solution that was being overlooked, but would minimise further impact. Plus, by having a co-founder of the company step in to support the consultant and discuss the issue with the executive stakeholders, in a factual cause and effect manner (with a proposed solution), we were able to satisfy them that the issue was being dealt with effectively and the project proceeded towards delivery.

The next time I’m asked how we find and keep such great IT staff I’ll answer in 7 words: hire well, provide support and take responsibility.

Ian Pearce is the Chief Operating Officer at Envisian.