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How to win the IT infrastructure and operations talent war

Sharon Florentine | Dec. 13, 2013
The future of your organisation rests in the hands of your Infrastructure and Operations talent. Gartner lays out a battle plan to win the war for those tech pros.

If the only action you take is to admit that these gaps may never be filled, it's a step towards a full staffing strategy, he says. Of course, the major focus of your staffing strategy should be on attracting, developing and retaining top talent, Rivard says.

How to Attract and Develop Top Talent
If your current talent sourcing strategy is lackluster, you should consider reevaluating how you are looking for new blood, says Rivard. Attracting 'better than average' employees requires you to widen employee searches beyond traditional sources. Don't underestimate the power of social media, Rivard says, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Twitter. They can be one of the best weapons in the talent war.

"Employees looking to make a career change are going to use these social networks as resources, so you should, too," Rivard says. "Social networks like these already are being leveraged by the top talent, and it's being used to ping your current employees. We see from research that 2 percent of your employees' time is spent on LinkedIn already," he says.

Not only can using social networks improve your reach, he says, but if your top talent is using them to spread the word about opportunities, they can often help bring in similarly talented people.

Development is key to making sure your talent is engaged and has the skills needed to move your organization forward, he says. Make sure you have development plans in place not just for technical skills but for leadership and 'service owner' skills, too, Rivard says.

"You should map development plans to fill the priority gaps you identified, but make sure you're training beyond tech skills to address business management and financial skills, too," Rivard says. "I & O leaders are spending over half the IT budget, so you can't afford for these folks to have poor financial management capabilities."

Sustaining your top talent means increasing engagement and rewarding innovation and initiative, Rivard says. But make sure those rewards are personalized and real.

"Highly engaged employees are innovative, loyal, and they're far less likely to leave," he says. They are also much more likely to attract other top IT talent into your organization. But you have to incent them with real rewards, he says.

Rivard says one client he spoke to described his company's implementation of a new data center that took employees and managers away from their families on weekends and late nights. For one particular employee, a dedicated family man, this project was especially trying. To show appreciation, his manager sent flowers to the employee's wife to thank her and the family for supporting their efforts and to acknowledge the hardship this entailed. This simple act brought the employee to tears, and helped make a difficult, trying project worthwhile, he says.


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