The talent shortage in the IT sector is real, and unsurprisingly the need for tech talent is insatiable. An interesting trend that we are witnessing are organisations who focus their efforts on improving the existing skills of their development teams. Typically, they spend their valuable time on creating job ads and trying to find “unicorns” (spoiler alert: they don’t exist) with little to no result.
There is only one way to turn members from your existing IT workforce into IT leaders, and that is by encouraging them to get more experience and to advance within your organisation.
In this article, we demystify “Talent Development” and help you to get an understanding of how to start with building a prominent IT team with stellar performers.
Defining IT Talent Development
IT talent development means focussing on the skills and competencies of your IT workforce and identifying what areas should be improved. As an organisation, you will have to provide them with the tools, learning opportunities and autonomy to explore new fields of interests. These assets will help them to advance their careers and develop themselves.
The ultimate goal of IT talent development is to support those employees who are engaged in their work and feel connected with your brand and overall business goals.
The 3 Main Benefits of IT Talent Development Programs
1. A boost in productivity & employee engagement
The people at your organisation work there because you have enabled them to do what they love doing the most. You can imagine that when you decide to invest in their development that they will feel valued and listened to. As a result, you will enjoy a steady increase in their productivity and boost morale to the extent that your IT people are connected closely with your brand.
2. Reduced Talent Retention Costs
People that are engaged and connected with your brand will less likely leave your organisation. When you invest in the development of your staff you will see that there are fewer reasons for them to consider other job opportunities.
3. Increasing number of applicants
After the successful launch and implementation of your talent development program, your candidate promise will change too. By offering a more compelling development path, more candidates will be interested in applying for jobs. Your Seniors and HR department are going to play a crucial role in this which will be further explained later in this article.
How to Start an IT Talent Development Program in Your Organisation
Start with asking questions to your workforce and be curious about their career plans. Find out their willingness to develop within your organisation.
A couple of questions you need to get answered are:
- Are they open for new opportunities?
- Do they think it’s the right time to make a change?
- What do they consider to be your greatest strengths at your current job and how do you see yourself grow in this position?
- What areas are they particularly interested in when it comes to your professional and personal development?
These questions might seem easy at first but once answered you will sit on a goldmine of valuable information that will help you to initiate a successful talent development program and getting the best results out of it.
IT Seniors Buy-In
To get these key questions answered, you want to consider consulting with your senior IT workforce about your IT Talent Development Program. The people that work closely with those the program is intended for might have a better and holistic overview of what the current situation is and what areas can improve.
Doing this gives you a better understanding of what is lacking in your current workforce. However, there is another source of valuable information you need to take into consideration.
Getting HR Involved
What is your promise to your future candidates when it comes to their development in the first place? What kind of feedback and concerns did applicants and current employees raise?
By collecting all the answers to the above questions from both HR and your Senior IT team you are ready to launch the program.
As with most programs, it’s difficult to let your ambitious plans to upskill your IT talent trickle down. Especially when your most experienced people are unable to convey the benefits to their subordinates. Making sure everyone is invested in the program as much as yourself will make the initiation much easier.
Get Feedback, Reiterate, Rinse, and Repeat
Make sure there is a 360-degree feedback cycle once the program is in place. The feedback will help you to address issues before they escalate. By organising weekly meetings with the stakeholders of the development program, you will be better able to improve where necessary and rule out any inefficiencies. As a result, your IT workforce will enjoy a fine-tuned program where they will learn new and essential skills.
Some points to keep in mind
The people responsible for communicating the program with subordinates will likely encounter some resistance. Typically, in large organisations where there are (strict) guidelines and KPI’s it’s possible that you will hear objections like “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t want to because that’s not going to work”.
There are three ways to approach this and to some extent prevent these objections:
- Make sure that before you launch the development program, the people who are genuinely interested have opted in by giving their consent. This enables you to focus on those who are driven to upskill and make your investment worth it. However, by being selective about who will attend these development training might cause some internal friction.
- A second and more approachable method is to make the development program accessible to everyone while also making it a part of their KPIs.
- Whichever method you decide on using it’s imperative to measure the results. Usually, training programs come along with a final test, a case study, or other means by which the progress of the participants is tracked. Tracking the progress is vital for any future development programs as it allows you to reiterate and improve your efforts.