In these times, talented workers enjoy mobility that only a few workers have experienced before. Managers who match an organization's goals and assumptions with the professional's goals and needs will find it easier to hire and keep the talent they need. This is true for both big league baseball stars and technical professionals (TPs).
Stewart Stokes (stewstokes@ worldnet.att.net) presented information technology (IT) research at a recent Babson College CIMS meeting. He identified four viable strategies that companies use to hire and retain IT professionals, but he agreed that much of the data applies to TPs as well. These strategies are based upon the organization's estimate of the length of its relationship with the TPs, and what needs they are both trying to satisfy. The beliefs and assumptions supporting these strategic choices are different, but vital to a firm's decisions about its recruitment and retention policies and their implementation.
First, companies that believe in the "long-term investment" approach consider TPs to be scarce resources. They think that TPs are worth developing for their organizational and technical knowledge. When professional achievement and the other needs of TPs are met, their productivity and job satisfaction can increase over time.
Another strategy sees "balanced professionals" also as scarce resources who can provide value for a few years. Besides professional achievement, they also have other short- and intermediate-term needs that must be met. They don't want to do the same job for too long. They can be replaced.
Companies seeking "high-performance professionals" consider TPs to be scarce resources who can provide value for several years. Professional achievement is their primary need, not building commitment or loyalty. Stress, burnout, higher turnover, and intensive recruiting are to be expected.
The "short-term producer" theory assumes that TPs are scarce resources who provide short-run value. Their goals are professional achievement and maximum compensation. They pay less attention to non-professional needs, career development, or personal security. Expect high turnover.
What are your beliefs regarding your goals and needs? Are they compatible with your employer's goals? If not, why not?
Employees and employers should use this model to improve mutual agreement between their goals. It could stimulate discussion during recruitment or performance evaluation sessions.
Ask the manager
Q: Recently, I've hired consultants to improve our creativity at our company, but they were terrible. How can I find better candidates?
A : Get names of consultants through agencies or web- sites, but check their credentials first, recommends Winston Brill.
In his newsletter, Innovative Leader , he warns that he's received referrals from a consultant who had given him the names of a cousin and a friend. Another consultant listed glowing quotes from non-existent employees at legitimate companies.
Brill suggests that you ask pointed questions, such as the names, dates and locations of the consultant's last jobs, with the phone numbers and names of key contacts.
Will they guarantee the value of their service? If I don't find value, he says, they don't get paid.
For more information, write to Winston Brill at Innovative Leader , 4134 Cherokee Dr., Madison, WI 53711 or call (608) 231-6766.
Q: Why isn't it enough to just hire the best people we can find?
A :Hiring the "best people we can find" is not a useful policy. Organizations must decide what they mean by "best" before recruiting. Then they must decide how long they want candidates to stay, and what they are prepared to do (or not to do) to retain them.
There is no one best way to improve the recruitment or retention of TPs. Employees need to fit in with the organization's culture and its beliefs about the type of people it wants. Although skill sets are necessary requirements for success, they constitute only one part of the success equation.