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StrategyNov 05, 2019

5 Best Practices for Growing and Retaining Top Tech Talent

Kristina Kimball

In our last post we shared how to become a competitive campus recruiter in the ever-changing and growing tech market. Now that you have top talent in your company, you need to improve retention and decrease employee turnover.

Your employees need to know your expectations and clearly see their path to career growth. With a tech market saturated with open positions, it is critical that your company stands out from tech giants and creates an environment where employees want to grow their career with you. Implement these five best practices to stand out and create an exceptional employee experience.

1. Detailed Career Path Framework

When employees join your company, they want to know what their path for career growth looks like and the steps they need to take to move to each new level. A career path framework outlines expectations for employees at each level while also clearly identifying the skills in which they need to gain proficiency to be promoted. See an example of how we at Credera enhance employee career growth.

There should be a framework for each level in each department, and employees should be made familiar with it during their first week of onboarding. This gives employees the opportunity to have a few days to look it over and ask questions before they are sprung into their role. A framework holds employees accountable to a set of standards and expectations while also outlining a clear path for them to grow within your firm.

2. Learning and Development Courses Tailored to the Framework

Now that each employee has a clear set of expectations at their current role and what is required to move to the next level, it is necessary to create learning and development courses that are tailored to the skills in the framework. For example, if entry-level developers need to be able write unit tests to be competent in their role, then offer a short training course equipping them with the skills to do so.

It is also important to have courses that will develop your employees’ skills for promotion. If your entry-level developers need to learn how to create pixel-perfect user interfaces using CSS3 or SCSS, provide them with an online course or an in-person training. You cannot expect your employees to be proficient in a wide range of skills without offering them the necessary tools and courses to learn ones that they aren’t exposed to through on-the-job learning. Our Open Technology Solutions Practice fosters and enhances learning through monthly lunch-n-learns, special interest groups, architect school, and encouraging professional certifications.

3. Management Training

The hope is that the entry-level developers you recruit from campus are eventually ready to be promoted to management roles, affirming that you made a great investment in hiring that employee. Similar to providing training courses to develop your employees’ skill sets, it is also critical to provide management training for those employees ready to be promoted into management roles. Management training instills a cohesive and collaborative approach for new managers to be integrated seamlessly with the company’s current management structure.

Managers interact directly with employees of all levels and need to be equipped to handle many different types of employee situations. Management training ensures a consistent approach is used to handle common employee situations, creating a standardized methodology across the company. Managers are the ones who are growing and developing your new and entry-level employees. It is critical to the company’s success that they are managed in an environment that fosters individual growth.

4. Standardized Performance Management Process

Now that you have established a career path framework, training courses tailored to the framework, and management training to train managers to use the framework, you need to establish a performance management process that anchors the framework and holds employees accountable for their work and progress. A successful performance management process has at least one formal review per year with other informal check-ins throughout the year.

Informal check-ins are an opportunity for employees to discuss their goals and receive feedback from their mentors and project leaders in a casual setting. Informal check-ins open the line of communication between an employee and project leads to help employees know their performance on a regular basis.

Informal check-ins are an essential part in frequently assessing employee performance; however, a formal review is just as important in performance management processes. Formal reviews should include:

  • Employee self-assessment to hold employees accountable to reflect on how they have performed over the year and how they are progressing according to their career path framework.

  • Reviewer assessment with calibration to standardize scores.

  • In-person discussion between the reviewer and employee to go over the results. This ensures that employees receive feedback and have an open discussion about areas for improvement and their goals for the next year.

5. Provide Constant and Actionable Feedback

Once you have your performance management process standardized across the company, complete with a formal review and informal check-ins, it is essential to focus on the type of feedback being provided to employees. It is important that the feedback provided is both constant and actionable. Constant feedback should be provided through informal check-ins with mentors and project leads since they interact with employees regularly. Justin Bell, Credera’s CEO, illustrates how Credera maintains short feedback cycles and how important honest feedback is for organizational transformation in his Forbes article. Project leads should be able to identify small areas where an employee can improve. For example, if the issue is presentation skills during meetings, then continually give the employee feedback in that area until they become proficient. Then identify a new skill to improve and continue that cycle.

While it is important that an employee is receiving constant feedback, it is even more critical that the feedback given is actionable. Actionable feedback identifies areas for improvement while suggesting a plan of action that outlines the steps an employee should take to improve. It is important to train your managers to provide specific feedback with examples; this clarifies expectations for employees and helps them excel at their job.

bringing it all together

You can have the best recruiting team on the planet, but it won’t matter if you don’t have processes and systems in place that will grow and develop your top talent into senior and management positions. The most successful companies have great training and development programs with clear expectations, leading to increased employee retainment.

In order to retain the talented individuals you are recruiting, your company needs to:

  • Create a detailed career path framework outlining an employee’s journey through the company.

  • Create and offer training courses that align with the framework to empower your employees with the skills needed for promotion.

  • Train all managers so they are equipped with the tools to handle any employee situation and offer effective feedback.

  • Standardize your performance management process with formal and informal evaluations to hold both the employer and employee accountable for the employee’s work and progress.

  • Grow and encourage each employee through a continuous stream of actionable feedback.

Credera has experience working with clients to improve employee engagement and recruiting strategies. If you would like to discuss ways you can foster employee engagement and enhance your recruitment efforts, please reach out to Credera here.