Legacy technology is not going away but no one wants to work on it. The number of good techies you don’t even get to employ because of it is challenging. Retaining the staff you already have, at times, feels impossible. Sure, you can share out legacy and support duties but ultimately, someone who knows more about a certain element will always be the ‘go to’. This creates natural work ‘desire lines’ in the pressure of day to day delivery, that over ride resourcing schedules and development programmes.
Working in legacy systems is not the glamourous greenfield stuff that gets users and stakeholders cooing over you and calling you a rock star (which all techies need a bit of every now and then). It’s usually unseen, done without people knowing and not hearing anything is usually the most thanks get. No one rings IT support and says “Just wanted to say thanks that every system and service I need today is up and working fine. Great job.”.
So how do you keep a motivated workforce in this environment? Carving out a less black and white definition of career development and job satisfaction is key to this in my view. The older and more experienced the techy, the wiser they are to the fact that legacy will always be there. They tend to jump ship less based on technology and more based on work-life balance and softer requirements such as feeling valued and listened to, able to influence and change etc. So how do you achieve this with the younger, sparkier team members that are still new technology junkies?
Using a team coaching approach to help capture this enthusiasm and forward thinking in to innovative ways to move product on is one way. Creating collaborative and thought-provoking meetings and working environments can create ideas that make the legacy environment more interesting and feel more like a greenfield environment.
Understanding what drives people can help you tailor development programmes in line with what motivates them. It may not be that they want to work in greenfield all the time but prefer the autonomy of working more agile - so a simple change in process could achieve the same outcome for example. Perhaps they wanted to work in a newer technology because they thought it paid better, but actually by adding some softer skills or going down a different path, you could offer them more?
When you use coaching to focus your attentions on the team rather than the product, the amazing thing is that the product benefits as a side effect. For more information on how a tailored programme from my team coaching partnership Dynamic Connections Coaching could help you get under the skin of your team and create a place they don’t want to leave, please get in touch.