Retention is a huge issue in tech teams. When a valuable member of a tech team walks out of the door so too does a wealth of legacy knowledge and experience not to mention and truck load of IP. The main contributors to retention issues within a tech team are:
The ambitious members of the talent pool are predominantly driven by wanting new skills and technologies. This can be challenging in an internal team where there is one infrastructure or legacy system that can’t be anything but. It is not possible to always be working in the latest technologies or replacing your infrastructure so people seek them elsewhere.
Salary and contracting rates are competitive. Margins in some areas can be extremely tight, meaning the cost of ’the product’ e.g. the team members, is squeezed hard to hit the numbers. Team members stay well connected with each no matter where they work, for tech help so are often enticed in to other businesses by ex-colleagues and with higher rates of pay.
Long hours and hard work
When things go bang, no one leaves until it is sorted. Most techies know the deal and work very long, sometimes ridiculous hours to get things up and running or rolled out and take a lot of flak and ambient stress from all angles during the process. If this is going on in an unrewarding environment, resentment and exhaustion combine to create bad feeling which is hard to heal.
Flat hierarchical structures
The food chain is relatively short in tech. You start at 1st line and make your way to 3rd line or specialist but often there are few spaces at this expert end of the cone and little opportunity to try working on issues/projects the next level up due to support and maintenance processes and resource allocations decisions being made by PM and Ops teams. Moving in to management or architecture is not for everyone and so larger jumps are made by changing company where a more senior technical slot becomes available.
Legacy tech and support
Where there are legacy systems in place – and let’s face it, even the most greenfield based software house has to integrate with an old dog of a system at some point – keeping people is hard. Some enjoy the thrill of the chase and the joy of fixing an issue and walking out the hero, whilst others despise it and yearn for the big meaty greenfield project and all the autonomy and creative opportunities it brings. These guys leave if they are constantly nursing an old system through a long and painful death.
Lack of connection
As I’ll explore later this month, tech teams are often disconnected and seemingly unengaged from the business. They can work in silos and have a completely different vision or set of values to the business, which causes friction points and a common lack of understanding of each other’s needs. This leads to product that isn’t fit for purpose and lack of correct investment in the team which is frustrating for team members.
The key theme for me in all of these areas is Value and Values. When people don’t feel valued through conscious or sub-conscious cues or omissions, and when people don’t understand the values of each other and the business, the issues above thrive. Working with a coaching approach and making team coaching a part of the DNA of the business enables the oh so painful Retention issue to be significantly reduced. Learning what the team value outside of salary and technology can be the key to retaining staff of legacy systems and setting yourself apart in terms of benefits from where their mate works down the road who are paying a bit more. Having a greater understanding of the skills available in all team members no matter of role can enable you to create more diverse and collaborative working groups that enable all team members to contribute and dabble in new things. Creating communication tools and hacks, and a mutual understanding of personality styles enables the team to connect better both within itself and the wider business. Creating a stronger partnership in this improves output and therefore success of the product and ultimately input in to the team by way of investment and product development.
Team coaching, development and leadership programmes can help to achieve these things and slowly eradicate unnecessary leaks in your talent pool. For more information on how a tailored programme from my team coaching partnership Dynamic Connections Coaching could be constructed for you and your business, please get in touch.