It goes without saying that the key to a successful business lies in its team and talent. The tech industry in particular has become extremely competitive, leaving a large shortage in the availability pool, in which CEOs and tech leaders must successfully navigate if their companies are to exemplify the best in the industry, both in terms of talent representation, and performance for clients. Here David Webb, CEO at 6point6, discusses with CEO Today the key considerations to make when top talent is a priority.
As more companies fight for survival, and transition to becoming technology companies in order to remain competitive, more demand is placed on an industry that is already under pressure from the skills gap, so as salaries continue to increase at pace, it becomes more difficult for all parties to compete for talent.
However, it is important for leaders to understand that money is not the key reason talented people are on the move – it also reflects other forms of employee value, such as the quality of life the working environment offers, the work-life balance, and the flexibility of working remotely. Get this established properly and you will be rewarded with a team who are not only exceptionally talented, but are happy and motivated to help you and the company grow and thrive.
As a technologist in the tech consultancy industry, I believe that if you have the best talent, you will always succeed. But having great “talent” doesn’t simply mean having exceptional technical ability – talent encompasses the person – after all, tech is still a “people” business. So, you have to be personable, able to interact with your team and clients, be empathetic and show understanding, and be able to think on your feet – these “sparks” must exist alongside technical expertise, for me, only then does it become the baseline for exceptional talent.
One of the reasons 6point6 is successful is that we have and will remain an “open door’ policy. Nobody in the company is too important that they cannot be approached by any member of staff at any time. An employee needs to know that they are appreciated as a person and not just for what they can deliver.
Attracting talent begins with building an accomplished senior team, those thought leaders and industry experts who inspire the people they work with, while proving they can deliver exceptional results. Starting in this way builds credibility and grows a level of maturity within the company that sells your brand and inspires younger talent to work towards the same.
The ability to offer exciting projects to work on is also a big draw. As is enjoying being part of an exciting culture and working environment. However, senior and junior talent do have different needs.
We find that our senior members of staff want to work alongside like-minded individuals, peers who are also highly skilled in their field, who they feel can continually push them to learn. They need to feel that they can differentiate themselves through those they associate with and work alongside.
Even highly skilled independent contractors can be attracted back into a company environment if you can offer them the opportunity to build or accelerate an idea that brings mutual benefit, in addition to the financial rewards.
Up-and-coming talent needs to feel they have inspiring leaders they can aspire to and emulate. They want to have mentors they can call co-workers to help fast-track their careers, improve their skills and shape their careers paths. This is an attractive offering and is a positive way of inspiring people to join the company. Training programmes are particularly important for this group, so we focus on deep immersion into key technologies in the early months to create a solid foundation for their career, before continuing into specialist training to aid progression. A mentor will also be allocated to help shape their technical and personable skills so they a gain a deep understanding of all the nuances involved in project work.
It’s a sensitive balance but investing time and resource into getting employee values right will pay dividends in the long-term. Refining this at 6point6 has meant that staff retention has been exemplary. However, if staff do leave, always keep in touch – they will be ambassadors for your company in the future. When you do lose staff, it’s important you lose them for the right reasons.
Having a fairly flat company structure certainly goes some way to giving everybody a sense of belonging and a voice – as mentioned previously, try to have a “door is always open” policy among your C-Suite.
If you are in the consultancy business, your consultants are likely to be away from the office environment for long periods of time and this can be alienating for them as it may allow feelings of disconnect and isolation to take hold over time. Making an effort to facilitate regular get-togethers, and set up a mode of instant communication enabling teams to interact and collaborate regularly between face-to-face interactions.
Culture and working patterns have changed, and are ever-evolving, so work-life balance is something we should all strive for. If suitable, allowing staff to work from home, thus removing the hassle of a lengthy commute can be highly productive. This is dependent on gaining the trust of your clients of course.
Something we are rolling out is investment in our staff’s personal development. They all have interests or areas of training they would like to pursue that might not necessarily link back to the company, however if we feel it will be beneficial for their growth, we are very keen to encourage this. Investing in your talent as employees, and as people, demonstrates the value you place on them, and will ultimately benefit both parties in the long-term.
Always treat your staff exactly the way you want to be treated. Without this value, your company is ill. Treat your staff right, and treat them well – as a CEO, it is part of your corporate health to do so.