The Best Strategy for Retaining and Developing Talent in the Channel

RetentionIt’s not easy to find the best-fit employees for most organizations ─ and keeping them may require a much greater effort. In today’s market, companies need to be more strategic when it comes to retaining their most promising employees and quicker to pull the trigger on those who simply don’t make the cut. With this in mind, CompTIA brought together thought-leaders in the space to cover virtually every part of an IT business’ employment lifecycle, from developing a job description to training and incentive programs; with the discussion emceed by Aaron Acker, technology enthusiast, business builder and chair of CompTIA's Technology Lifecycle Services Community.

IT channel companies typically face more difficult HR challenges than their entrepreneurial counterparts in other industries. A continuing shortage of qualified technical professionals is to blame for much of that stress, especially when solution providers find themselves competing with larger organizations for quality talent. Another challenge is that many IT services business owners have a greater passion for the tech than they do for organizational development. Focus is everything and, if your head isn’t entirely in the game, hiring and retention challenges can become much more difficult to overcome.  

Those challenges can be overwhelming to those unfamiliar with HR policies and best practices. That’s the opinion of several employee development professionals familiar with the obstacles and policy needs of channel businesses. Tricia Barbier, Director of Operations - PMO at SmartSource Technical Solutions points out it all starts with building a solid, proactive recruiting plan. “By putting the right person in the right role, you make job satisfaction and retention much easier. Every business should develop accurate job descriptions and update them as the responsibilities change. Barbier also advises channel firms to build a corporate “story” that highlights why prospective employees should be interested in working for their organization.    

“Be sure to read what you’re posting and review what those inside the organization are writing about job openings,” says Gordon Pelosse, Vice President of Global Support Delivery, Canada at Hewlett Packard. “Make sure the description accurately conveys the job opportunity and ensure it puts the community in a good light. Avoid company acronyms and references, which can be exclusionary.”

Transform New Hires into MVPs (Most Valued Professionals)
Once a candidate accepts your job offer, the real work kicks in. It starts with onboarding and training, each requiring careful guidance from the right people in the organization. “The mentoring process is extremely important. This is often harder for small companies, which often have little time and fewer resources to spare,” suggests Tracy Pound, Managing Director of Maximity Limited.

The key thing to remember is that mentoring is more than just a long-term training exercise. When done well, it becomes part of the corporate culture where more experienced professionals share advice and best practices and, most importantly, listen to concerns and help vet new ideas.   

Hiring and employee training processes never end with most businesses, so the people who manage and improve these programs have to keep up on the latest trends and work rules. IT services business cannot afford to take shortcuts in this business-critical process. “It’s about keeping employees current and keeping them learning. Everything is evolving, and you and your team need to keep renewing programs and skills,” recommends Garry Tackett, Vice President of Learning and Employment Services for CareerBuilder.

Join one of CompTIA's communities to learn how your peers are retaining top talent and share your best practices in holding on to valuable manpower!