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Retain your ICT talent in 3 easy steps

South Africa is facing an unnerving shortage of qualified ICT recourses. The creme-de-la-creme of graduates shoot for the Googles leaving a huge void for us mere mortals to come up with resources who have the attitude, aptitude and will fit into our organisational culture. But what are these superhero companies offering that we are not? Money?

Let’s explore what the science tell us about monetary incentives.

A study done at MIT funded by the Federal Reserve bank showed that as long as the tasks involved only mechanical skills monetary incentives worked as expected. When the tasks calls for even rudimentary cognitive skills the larger the reward the poorer the performance! They found that money as a motivator is only a hygiene factor. Pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. So if it’s not the monetary reward that attracts talent what is it?


According to the MIT study there are 3 factors that lead to better motivation and thus better retention:

Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

1. Autonomy - our desire to be self-directed

Why do we hire smart people and then tell them how to do their jobs? You will find if you just get out their way they will probably do something really cool. Hackathons are gaining extreme popularity around the globe. What is a hackathon you ask? This is where people in your organisation is given free reign to create whatever they desire, with whomever and in whatever way within a specific time limit or sprint. The only requirement is that they present their findings to management at the end of the sprint during a fun filled meeting. This one day of autonomy creates not only huge business outcomes in new product ideas or fixing of existing problems but also increases employee satisfaction enormously. My voice is herd in this company and I am valued creates a massive pull for new talent and keeping existing talent.

Autonomy goes further than just self direction on work but also towards self-expression. Am I allowed to express myself in the way that I dress and how I look or am I forced to wear a corporate one size fits all uniform? Giving people the power of expression makes a difference in the way they work and how they think. Being output driven rather than time driven will give them autonomy over their working time as well. Every person’s energy time levels are different. I perform on my best from 4am up to about lunchtime. After that I can only do mundane automatic tasks…. Where possible let your team determine their working time to complement their energy time levels. You will get more out and a more engaged crew who will stick with you.


2. Mastery - the urge to get better at stuff

Why do people take up certain hobbies like playing a musical instrument or archery? Because they get better at it…. People want to see themselves improve at something. Give them that opportunity by giving them new challenges. People aren’t meant to sit in a cubicle doing the same repetitive tasks day and night like a battery chicken laying eggs… that is what automation and robotics are for. People we are less interested about titles and promotion and more interested in new ways to challenge themselves. Keep on developing new products through innovation events and a well funded R & D devision. Let the R & D devision be crewed up on a rotational basis. This will not only lead to better innovation but also challenge people outside of their normal day to day production environment. Innovation stimulates new products that in turn stimulates growth with new positions opening up for people to move into.

An innovative company breeds a loyal crew that is challenged on a regular basis.

Technical training, internships and leadership development is part and parcel of mastery. If your company don’t have it …. You won’t get the and retain the talent you need to succeed.


3. Purpose - the reason your company exists

People have this persistent need to be part of something bigger than themselves…

If you don’t know the story:

President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time, in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA. The janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”

Build a brand that stands for something bigger. “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” - Google’s purpose. That’s power!

This purpose needs to be enforced through rockstar leadership. People will sign up, follow and stick with a great leader that will lead them to a bigger purpose. People don’t sign up to title or structure they want to know who they are working for. People often resign from managers not companies.

If you are in a leadership position  you need to reinforce that greater purpose with rockstar charisma and live it every day. This not only goes for the C-suite executive but also down the line all the way to team level. Be the leader people want to aspire to 24/7.

Build a culture that supports the purpose and starts from leadership and filters down to the crew. Build sub-cultures within departments and recruit to enforce those cultures from leadership to crew members linked to a divisional purpose. These cultures are strongly linked to the risk profile of that division. R & D devision should be crewed up by highly energetic and greenhorn radical thinkers - the piercing and tattoo crowd. Your core business needs the old experienced hand who are risk averse and will keep the engines running. In some departments the magic is in the mix. A well balanced mix of experience and radical thinkers will bring both calmness and excitement to the team. Experience sees value in energy and starts mentoring the greenhorn radical thinkers. This way they too become part of a bigger purpose in themselves. The greenhorns brings energy and start seeing value in structure and experience.

Think ahead 5 years. What will your divisional or organisational purpose look like in 5 year’s time? Build on that culture today!

Stop your talent from migrating to the competition by offering a superhero company experience…. Autonomy, Mastery and purpose!

Information sourced from our CIO peer group.

If you want to be part of these discussions with our group of CIOs drop me a mail

The business case for a strategist CIO

The CIO role has changed dramatically over the last few years. Digital technologies including big data, Internet of Things, social media, and mobile apps have transformed the very fundamentals of most businesses. With every company becoming a technology company, yesterday's CIO will not suffice for today's business.

It is time that the CIO lose the firefighting outfit for a spot at the c-suite table. Not for IT's sake - For business sake! Tech is embedded in every business process binding them together into a greater system. Much like the heart connecting all the bodily functions together. If the heart has a problem the entire body is in trouble. If you still think of your IT system as only being supportive - try switching it off for a day and look at the impact.

As the cardiologist the CIO must envisage, with the EXCO, what the future might look like. To enable this new vision of the fitter business the cardiologist must carefully calculate what the impact will be on the existing IT system as well as be a fortune teller to predict what tech might be available in this new reality. Reporting to the CEO, the CIO must be responsible for giving oversight and direction to IT and EXCO on strategy, standards, and opportunities for shared services and economies of scale. It goes without saying that the CIO must know their tech stuff.

The complexity of the cardiovascular system and the business IT systems are vast. The investment into those systems can run into the millions of rands. Being ultimately responsible for not only the investment in those assets but also the return on investment not only takes a tech guru but also a business savvy CIO. Understanding the building blocks of the systems and how they influence each other is a non-negotiable. How can you do open heart surgery if you don't understand the cardiovascular system? You need knowledge of how the architecture is built, how the development functions operate, how the project teams operate, how development lifecycles work, how programs execute and how the system operates as a whole. Monitoring the heart rate becomes totally irrelevant when the carotid artery is blocked starving the brain of oxygen ultimately causing death. But a low heart rate during exercise shows an efficient and fit body able to withstand high output for a longer time.

There is a correlation between heart rate (IT metrics) and fitness (Business metrics). The IT Metrics becomes an early warning system of some sort to a business metric. Every CIO needs to be held accountable for the business metrics at board level the IT systems enable. The difference between an average cardiologist and a great one is one that can take the health metrics and trace it back to cardiovascular adjustment that needs to happen! The same with a great CIO. A great CIO needs to be able to look at a business metric and pull the strings of an IT system to have a positive impact on the business outcome. Top CIOs today are digital and transformational leaders. They are restructuring IT around business services and products, as opposed to software applications and projects. While the CFO has his/her eyes on the bottom line, the CEO is focused on the top line thus the CIO should be looking at both! Saving money and increasing revenue with some smart strategic thinking should be the mantra of the CIO.

The CIO needs to be part of the EXCO team as a business partner and be accountable for saving money as well as growing the business through knowledgable interventions and innovations in tech and how people interact with it. There are so many factors influencing the top and bottom lines the CIO is arguably the most influential member on the C-suite that has to be a person with many talents - Len de Villiers lists the CIO's roles and responsibilities in The Public Technologist as: Cost optimiser Security systems advisor Strategic planner Talent/retention manager Business process optimiser / engineer Business continuity manager / disaster recovery director New systems and solutions innovator Leader of people and teams Communicator of vision Procurement strategist Operations manager Stakeholder manager Strategic problem solver Legacy system terminator Project Director Architect of the future landscape Member of EXCO Organisational structure designer Corporate governance sponsor So is your CIO part of the C-suite table or still the IT Techy down in the dungeon? Get them eating at the EXCO Trough contributing to both the top and bottom line by empowering them through our Peer CIO Forums chaired by Len de Villiers or by personal mentoring programmes. If you don't have a CIO we can also help.

Drop me a mail