Technology skills are only the tip of the iceberg. A good cultural fit and ongoing training are the keys to retention.
By Bob Violino
For solution providers, finding and retaining the best talent is an ongoing challenge-- regardless of the state of the economy. Technology is rapidly changing and delivery models such as cloud computing are evolving quickly. Bringing on people with particular skills is essential to staying competitive and keeping customers satisfied.
Hiring individuals with the right technical talents is only the beginning, however. To get the most out of their staff, solution providers need to hire people who are a good fi t with the company's culture. They also must give them the freedom to do what they do best, and help them continue learning through ongoing training and development.
"Recruitment mistakes can be costly," says Robyn Tingley, vice president of human resources, Americas, Ingram Micro. "That's why companies place signifi cant emphasis on hiring people who fi t with the organization's culture. When you fi nd a good match, the person is more likely to be able to hit the ground running and have a measurable, positive impact quickly."
A Good Fit Pays Off
When the new hire is a good fi t, it's more likely that the person will be better engaged in the organization, Tingley says, which means they will bring discretionary effort to their roles and be enthusiastic about their contributions. Staffers are more likely to go the extra mile to meet company objectives, while enhancing their own professional development and career goals, which leads to stronger retention.
"When empowered through freedom and continued development opportunities, people can multiply their positive impact as well as have a material impact on the people around them," Tingley says. "It can be a powerful formula."
Belinda Braley, vice president of human resources at IT solution provider GreenPages, agrees that cultural fit, freedom to grow and ongoing training are important considerations.
"We've all had the experience of interviewing a superstar candidate who hits it out of the park technically, but is a miss on cultural fit," Braley says. "GreenPages' culture is one in which our extremely talented people work and play with passion, communicate openly, possess entrepreneurial spirits and passion for technology."
Due to the rapid pace of business, much of a company's success is credited to the symbiotic nature of employee relationships. "When a company has a great culture, it is critical to value and protect that," Braley says. "Hiring the wrong person, even for the right reasons, is not the right choice if it threatens the balance of a great culture."
Giving smart, talented people the freedom to shine in their respective disciplines makes good business sense. "The trick isn't finding the same person over and over, but capitalizing on the unique strengths and expertise each individual brings aboard, and deploying that in a way that best serves each employee and our business goals," says Braley.
GreenPages has defined career paths for individuals who are willing to work hard, and the company provides paid time off and financial support for employees working to earn secondary degrees and professional certifications. Training is also provided on an ongoing basis.
Tap the Talent Pool
GreenPages' formal recruiting model includes phone conversations, in-person interviews and, in some cases, job-shadowing days to help each party determine if there's a mutually positive fit.
"We believe this comprehensive approach allows us to also begin building a relationship prior to an employment offer and contributes to a more speedy and successful onboarding process for those individuals who end up joining our team," Braley says. "Our recruiting process is collaborative and transparent: no trick questions, no strategies to try and catch someone off-guard, but rather honest dialogue and a genuine interest in each candidate. If someone isn't a fit right now, he or she may be in the future or may be a good connection for us in finding others who will join our team."
Often the quickest, most effective and least expensive way to recruit is to tap into your existing employees and their networks, Tingley says. "They can be some of the best ambassadors a company has, but they are often underutilized," she says. "Most recruiters think they need to sift through hundreds of resumes from far and wide, when often word-of-mouth delivers strong candidates who have existing relationships within the company."
Companies should create a "culture of talent seekers, where hiring managers and employees are actively part of the recruitment solution and receive rewards through finder's fees and other incentives," Tingley says.
Effective interviewing is a key to successful hiring practices. "Behavioral-based interviewing is important to test how people will behave in specific situations and whether or not they have the skills and competencies the role requires," Tingley says. "This is far more telling than asking someone to replay the content of their resume or asking them typical questions they are prepared for and have rehearsed many times."
Having a good orientation program in place also is essential to good hiring practices. "Ensure an effective onboarding process that helps new associates assimilate into the culture, understand expectations, and begin to have pride in their role and the organization," Tingley says.
Extend Your Reach With Staffing
Solution providers can also turn to a number of outside resources, such as Ingram Micro's IT Staffing Services, to help them with their technology hiring and staffing needs.
"Strategic outsourcing of resources through Ingram Micro's IT Staffing and Ingram Micro Services Network [IMSN] enables solution providers to respond to all of their customers' service needs, while optimizing and maximizing their company's own pool of technical resources," says John Redman, manager of professional services, Ingram Micro.
Ingram Micro's staffing program gives solution providers the flexibility to augment the capabilities and availability of their own staff for temporary, project, temp-perm or direct placements, without having to take on additional administrative burden and expense. Solution providers provide the details about the location, skills and rate, and Ingram Micro IT Staffing finds the right person.
"These programs ensure solution providers do not have to use their highly skilled technical talent for basic service requests," says Redman. "Staffing ensures the solution providers can dispatch their most profitable technicians to the most profitable cases."
When the break/fix capabilities of a lower-level technician secured through the IT Staffing program are no longer needed, the resource is advised to no longer show up at the site.
"Ingram Micro's partners for the IT Staffing program already have databases full of candidates throughout the U.S. and Canada, and can quickly produce a collection of candidates and perform the initial vetting process," says Redman. "The solution provider only has to consider the candidate most likely to be successful in a position."
It Pays to Partner
Through IMSN, solution providers can extend their geographic reach and technical competency through a network of more than 700 members, all of whom have signed a program agreement containing nondisclosure and noncompete clauses that protect the integrity of the relationships the solution providers hold with their end users.
"With the various levels of technical services available through IMSN, solution providers help each other out by keeping the technical benches of other companies busy without these other companies having to spend significant dollars marketing and generating new services opportunities," Redman says.
About the author: Bob Violino has written about business and technology for more than 25 years.
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