startups and code

Retention vs Recruiting - In Tech

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Retaining good talent seems to be less of a concern than recruiting. I know of recruiting firms that are going to be upset by this post, but let's review a recent post on BusinessInsider about time at a tech company (article here). All but FaceBook are under 2 years and that is barely over 2 years. I worked at Microsoft for almost 7 years (not including a year as a contractor). I worked at ITS, SerialsSolutions and SAI Global for 3 years. Outside of contract work, I generally spend 3+ years at a place,  There were a few exceptions, but generally, that is true. (Vertafore was an exception, I moved to be closer to family, a big shout-out to Vertafore though, the talent there is AMAZING!)

Now coming into more senior roles, I love watching team dynamics and figure out how they thrive and how they die.  It is more about human dynamics rather than skillset or even the project. I do not get along with everyone. Anyone who claims to get along with everyone either is a liar or is extremely unopinionated with very little passion.  I do get along with people who have differing opinions, and often I like those people the most! Why? Because they challenge my ideas, my thoughts, and my experience. They make me defend my position and explain the WHY on what I believe. Those are the people that make me better, make the product better, and allow the explanation/pitch to be better for knowing the why behind the technology.

Let's talk about retention right now, I won't go into a long drawn-out process on how to improve your retention, it is not simple and there is no silver bullet fix, like most tough problems. I'll make it pretty clear:

1. Identify your teams

It seems obvious, but you would be shocked at how many people are unaware of their own teams and who are on what teams and what their roles are on that team.

2. Observe the teams

Don't make changes, don't order people, simply observe. You need to figure out what roles people are taking, who is the leader, who is the follower, who is the quiet deliverer, who is the socialite, who is the lobbyist, etc... What is the problem with that team? Is there an actual problem?

3. Make a minor change

Keep it simple, and don't see if it worked after a week or a day.  Give it at least 30 days.  A minor change would be to put someone officially in charge of a team (maybe the person that is taking that role already). Create a side project for a member who is the socialite. There are a lot of options.

4. Keep a pulse on team morale

Team morale is what eventually pushes people to leave a company. We all can tolerate quite a bit with more money, more perks, etc... but if we don't like our team members, it will eventually get to a point where it doesn't matter and something has to change. We change our company from the inside or we change our company by leaving. It is helpful to simply ask sometimes one on one, how are you? what can we do to make your life here better? If you were to leave, where would you go and why?

I hope this helps a little to get you started on improving your team's morale.  Focus on keeping your best employee's rather than looking for the next best new hire.