If you’re a leader in the ICT industry – regardless of whether you’re running your own business or leading a team within a larger organisation – you’re probably dealing with a skills gap.
You may have positions on your team or in your business that are open and you’re struggling to fill them. Maybe you’re even trying to poach staff from other companies because you know they’ve got the skills and the talent you need. Or perhaps you’re lying awake at night worrying about how to keep your staff committed, loyal and engaged.
It’s a real problem right across the ICT sector. In fact, the Australian Computer Society 2017 Australia’s Digital Pulse Report predicted that Australia will experience a shortfall of 81,000 workers in the ICT sector over next 4 years.
While some organisations are facing critical skill shortages, others – like software giant Atlassian or networking company Cisco – don’t really have a problem when it comes to attracting the right talent.
What makes them different?
Companies like Cisco and Atlassian have focused on becoming employers of choice. Rather than seeing employees simply as a means to an end, they’ve taken steps to develop a culture and an organisation that is a great place to work:
- a place where people have an opportunity to develop new skills and grow their capabilities;
- where they can engage in meaningful work and make a real contribution;
- where respect and diversity are the hallmarks of engagement; and
- people are valued for who they are as well as what they bring to the equation.
When Atlassian advertises a role, they receive literally hundreds of applications because people in the industry know it’s a great place to work?
So what’s involved in becoming an employer of choice?
Sure, it’s not an overnight solution – it’s a long-term commitment, and it’s about having great values and not just words on a wall. Values that you live by, values that really dictate what work the company does, what its character is like, how staff behave and how they engage with the industry, with staff, with customers and with stakeholders.
It’s about having great leadership and a consistent approach from the top and down through every level of the organisation.
Robin Sharma wrote a great book called “The Leader Without a Title”, in which he talked about the fact that, regardless of the role you’re playing in an organisation, you have an opportunity to lead. When you choose to step up to be the best you can be and lead within your space, you can positively influence those around you and act as a role model.
So how well do you lead your team or your division or your organisation? And how much time do you invest in developing your self-awareness and ensuring that you’re being the most effective leader you can?
Given that communication is a foundational leadership skill, how well do you engage with others and communicate your expectations, concerns and needs?
How well do you understand your staff and what they need, their aspirations and dreams, and how do you work with them to ensure that the work they’re doing is engaging and fulfilling, and that they’re developing along their chosen path towards their professional goals.
A critical aspect of leadership is being able to clearly articulate the values and vision of the organisation in a way that enables you to attract people who will fit well within your organisation.
Too often in the ICT sector we make the hiring process all about the technical skills but then we bring in people who are a poor cultural fit for the business, and that can create all sorts of problems. While the technical skills are important, we also need to hire on the basis of attitude and behaviour.
Think about the last time you had to performance manage or fire someone. I’m betting it was their attitude or behaviour rather than their technical skills that were causing the problem. When recruiting, we need to look at both the person’s skills AND their attitudes/values because these will dictate how well they fit within your organisation and team.
One of the tools I use with my clients is the Integrity and Values profile, which actually measures integrity by assessing the behaviours and attitudes that determine whether someone will be truthful, work hard and deliver on their promises. This profile allows you to get an inside look into how this person will behave after the probationary period.
And because it’s an online assessment, you can get them to complete it before the interview if you think they’re going to be a good candidate, and then drill down into potential problem areas during the interview or reference checks.
While there are no silver bullets to solving the ICT talent gap, becoming an employer of choice is a great strategy to attract and retain good staff either for your team or for your organisation.
And remembering that more people change jobs because of poor leadership than almost anything else, the role you play as a leader within the organisation will have a significant impact on whether people choose to work there.
Leaders master the art of giving valuable feedback to their staff. Use our CREATE Framework Worksheet to get the same results. Download the free worksheet here.