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How to Pull Together a Winning IT Team

Lynn Haber**Editor’s Note: Register now for the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, the gathering place for the technology services community, April 10-13, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.**

The war is on for IT talent. How to find, attract and retain IT professionals is a challenge that resonates throughout the partner ecosystem.

Carousel Industries' Tim HebertUnemployment for security professionals is at zero, and staffing firm Robert Half Technology predicts that starting salaries for tech pros overall will rise 3.8 percent in 2017. Some tech jobs will demand even higher increases: data scientists, 6.4 percent; big-data engineers, 5.8 percent, and network security engineers, 5.7 percent. Women entering technology are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the field within a year, according to the Harvard Business Review.

As many hiring managers know, it’s a sellers market and companies have to be creative if they want to fill empty slots or new positions. Industry pros participating in the upcoming keynote, “Camp Talent: Pull Together a Winning Team” – at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, address creative ways to attract and keep the talent needed to grow a successful business.

Session participants include: moderator Nancy Ridge, executive vice president, Telecom Brokers; and panelists Tim Hebert, chief client officer, Carousel Industries; Andrew Lydecker, president, Avant Communications; and, Emily Lundi, director, talent and organization development, Ingram Micro. We caught up with Hebert and Lundi, and asked them to preview their session. {ad}

Channel Partners: What do you see happening in the job market?

Tim Hebert: The language I use when I talk about this is that there’s a talent war going on. It’s similar to baseball free agency — there’s a small pool of talent and it’s not getting bigger. It’s staying static in size and some may argue that it’s shrinking with people exiting the IT industry, whether that’s people retiring or young women who started their career in IT and decid[ing] for whatever reason, to leave.

Ingram Micro's Emily LundiAt the same time, the need for talent is growing; everyone wants the talent that’s in the pool. So what you’re seeing is the price of talent rise to astronomical levels – in many cases for mediocre talent – which won’t help you change your business model successfully.

My whole focus as a business owner and as a person involved with workforce issues in my state (Rhode Island) is, how do we increase the size of that pool? How do we create talent that makes that pool richer, deeper and more diversified?

CP: Emily, in your job the focus is on associate development, engagement, leadership development, talent planning and performance management, and goal setting, among other things. Share some thoughts on the issue of employee retention today.

Emily Lundi: As the talent pool shrinks, companies have to step up and identify what they’re doing to create an environment, internally, that will allow them to attract top talent and how to keep them.

So, at Ingram Micro, we make sure that …

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… our leaders know how to attract top talent, how to know it when you see it, how to interview for it and bring it into the organization.

Companies have to look at the environment they’re creating and the value proposition of what they’re offering, such as compensation and benefits, [and] the roles they’re creating. When a new hire joins the company, do they see a pathway for where they can go and what other options are available to them? Now we’re talking about that career-management piece.

CP: Partners want to know if there really are things that they can do to address the hiring and retention challenges.

EL: Retention is a problem today. People are leaving and technology itself is playing a role … people are seeing opportunity more often; they get tapped on the shoulder through LinkedIn or other career sites that make it so much easier … to leave.

It’s important to have conversations every day with employees to make sure they know they’re valued and to see the bigger picture of where they’re making an impact and where there’s opportunity within the company.

All companies face the same battle, and people don’t tell you they’re getting ready to leave. So, it’s about the environment you create, the one-on-one, whether you’re a big company or a startup. Employees don’t want to leave a company that believes in them if they have a place where they like to work.{ad}

CP: So are there best practices out there to help partners find, recruit and retain talent?

TH: Yes. And one of the things we’ve done is look for nontraditional sources of talent, whether that’s having a very healthy internship program, going directly to colleges and bringing people in – even though they don’t have a computer science degree – [and] looking at ex-military or people that went to trade schools.

What I want people to understand is that the No. 1 challenge to business owners of technology companies and the single biggest inhibitor to growth – more important than money – is getting talent at the right price.

You’ve got to think differently.

EL: Yes, there are best practices that companies have to attract, hire and retain talent. It’s also important to get some different thinking about how to structure programs and processes, regardless of the size of your company.


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