How to Hire and Retain Talent to Achieve Growth in a Software Company

Kiran Madhunapantula By Kiran Madhunapantula on August 8, 2014

software developer hiring strategy

Achieving sustainable business growth is a constant endeavor for many IT companies, creating a great demand for right skills and talent. This brings a very valid concern to the table: where can the talent be obtained to meet the ever increasing demands of the IT industry? Especially in countries like Europe and the US, there is a huge demand for good IT talent. This need has usually resulted in companies expanding their teams beyond continental borders. No wonder, good HR practices are most sought after, and every company is looking for the silver bullet. An ex-colleague and friend once summarized a possible HR strategy in a simple manner: Hire the good, make them better and advance the best.

From my experience, I firmly believe that the current revolutions happening in the Indian IT industry require a deep mindset change. Several companies talk about ‘Recruitment’ and ‘Retention’ strategies but have yet to update them. These require a major overhaul because what may have worked in the past is not going to work in today’s IT climate.

Recruit

I like the way Jim Collins explains hiring strategies. He talks about ‘First who and then what’ concept for having the right people on board. In his book, ‘Good to Great’, there is an interesting illustration on the approach of getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.

Making money is perhaps easier than building a business, which requires that all your dependencies are reliable: whether they be people, strategy, planning, processes or tools. People make things happen, process creates effectiveness, planning brings visibility while tools help maintain consistency. What I have realized over the years is that people are the main key to success. In order to be successful, a company must always remember that talent is its main asset.

Therefore, it is very important for organizations to have their hiring strategy right. From my experience, companies can benefit from a top down approach and start by hiring the right people for senior and middle management positions. The word ‘right’ is debatable as it varies, based on individual perspectives. But the ‘rightness’ implied here is linked to the personality and behaviour of the managerial staff. So, a business should essentially ask the following questions about the person they intend to hire: 

  • Are they passionate?
  • Do they have team skills?
  • Are they knowledgeable? Can they get the job done by guiding the team in the right direction?
  • Do they care intensely about execution? Are they result oriented?
  • Can they strike a balance between monitoring and coaching others?
  • Do they take accountability seriously? Are they open to new ideas and their results, whether good or bad?
  • Are they fun loving?

In my experience, not everybody has to have all these aspects in equal measure, but having a team of people that can complement each other in all the above mentioned attributes can really set your company up for success.

Yet another strategy that organizations can implement is setting up a common standard for recruitment; perhaps even in the form of a crisp and clear handbook that explains desired behavioural traits in an employee.

Retain (Or as I prefer to call it, Sustain)

‘Retention’ is a commonly misunderstood term in most organizations. The strategies some companies adopt, seem more of a ‘detention’ strategy rather than retention. Recently, I heard of a top executive from Bangalore claiming that he even built a golf course for his employees. Several other companies are also trying out initiatives like implementing day care options for kids and elderly family members of the employees. While these strategies improve the personal lives of the employees, they do nothing to promote his/her professional growth. There is a certain point, after which, an employee isn’t really seeking for his personal needs to be met by his or her organization.

This is why I prefer using the term ‘sustain’. There should be a blend of focus on both employee well being as well professional advances. From my experience, sustenance in knowledge build-up and capabilities in the organization is very important for delivering results. Process alone cannot make this happen, it requires people. Investing in people and making an effort to create an environment that is conducive to success are two main ingredients of the sustenance theory.

Here are a few practical retention strategies that we have personally implemented and seen tremendous results with:

  • Invest in human capital development
  • Create opportunities and make them visible
  • Build a good culture (culture is imbibed from the top management behaviour)
  • Transparency in job rotation and career path

If hiring and employee retention have become a hurdle in your path to success, we have just the right guide for you. Download our free brochure on the Five Best Practices of Recruiting and Retaining Software Developers so that you can immediately start crafting an effective hiring and retention strategy for your organization.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on ‘Regain’ as a valuable business strategy. We will go beyond employee recruitment and retention and discuss a third element of regaining employees for organization success.

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