Table of Contents
People management is critical to the success of all aspects of your enterprise. Our focus is on the issues pertaining to your IT staff. Our experience is that you need HR strategies that reflect the unique nature of the IT community. We recommend that the HR and IT teams work closely together on implementing concepts presented in the People Management discipline, the high-level workflow for which is shown in Figure 1 and the detailed amalgamated workflow in Figure 2. Furthermore, an important message of this discipline is that in order for it to succeed your organization must be as agile as possible: it is possible for enterprise-level professionals to work in an agile manner, but they must choose to do so and be allowed to do so.
It is important to assess the needs of the business from an enterprise standpoint when planning the staffing for your IT department. During the planning process, remember that staffing comes down to three points: Get the right people, make them happy so they do not want to leave, and turn them loose. While not directly involved in the staffing of individual projects within the portfolio, the portfolio manager can help recommend aligning required resources across the various programs and projects in order to help maximize returns for the enterprise.
You need to recognize that IT people are different from many of your other staff, they tend to be highly specialized (although the best ones are actually generalizing specialists , something that is becoming more and more common in the agile community although the traditional community still struggles with this) and relatively mobile (they can easily leave your organization for better opportunities). Because many IT professionals are focused on technical work and aren’t interested in becoming managers, you need a technical career track in addition to a management career track. The result is that you may have senior developers who have been with you for a few years; they may have benefits equivalent to a senior vice president who has been with you for decades.
Your HR department must assist in managing the staff much like any other department within your organization. Some IT organizations try to form self-contained units, where they basically ignore any formal HR input. This is not a good idea; remember that the HR specialists bring many areas of expertise into the process, including HR legal risks, skills tracking (and assessment), and other trends, such as the use of contractors or consultants, that can help reduce IT uncertainty. However, many HR departments struggle with dealing with IT staff so you need to be prepared to work with them. Figure 3 depicts the fundamental activities required to manage your IT staff.
The staff can include a mix of both contractors and full-time employees. Why do organizations need to utilize contractors? There are several possible reasons. The most obvious is staff augmentation: sometimes you simply cannot hire people fast enough to fulfill your needs. Contractors become a short-term solution to staffing problems. You may also not have a consistent enough need to justify hiring full-time people. If you only have an occasional need for people, hiring contractors may be more economical for you. Using external contractors and consultants to smooth the fluctuations in staffing needs is one way that organizations deal with this issue. Another reason is to acquire a particular skill set. One of the best ways to get the most for your money from a
contractor is to assign him or her to transfer skills to employees by means of mentoring. By doing this, you can grow the skills of the full-time employee, which helps them, and the organization, grow professionally.
The goal of this activity is to have both the IT and HR departments working together to ensure people on the various teams are being guided along their careers. Although everyone should realize that their own professional career is in their own hands, it is up to the organization to foster growth in their employees. There are several ways you can do this:
- Hands-on experience. The staff member learns by doing, which is often the best way to learn a new skill, and producing work at the same time.
- Training. This focuses on teaching people specific, narrowly focused skills that are often immediately applicable to their current position. Examples of training courses include courses focusing on a particular vendor’s implementation of an Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) application server, on Microsoft Windows user interface design, and on working with the new version of a particular vendor’s Java integrated development environment (IDE).
- Education. This imparts longer-term skills and knowledge that are typically applicable over someone’s entire career. Examples include attending conferences, talking with or working with experts, using new tools and techniques, and applying concepts in real life.
- Mentoring. This is the process of having an experienced professional impart his or her expertise to others following a hands-on basis. Mentoring is typically used to support both your training and education efforts: effective mentors must understand the fundamentals of their jobs as well as the skills needed to perform their jobs on a day-to-day basis and be able to transfer those skills to the people that they are mentoring.
When people gain new skills, they also need to be rewarded to reflect their greater value to the organization. This does not always need to be monetary. Make books, magazines, and online subscriptions to various reports available. The worst thing you can do is cut your training/conference budget because this part of the budget is important for the long-term viability of your organization; however, this is often the first thing that gets cut when times get tight.
Succession planning is a serious challenge for most of today’s organizations. The goal of succession planning is to make sure that your organization is ready for future generations of your IT staff to take over when your current staff is no longer with your organization. This includes both management and key technical staff.
Your organization needs to do this for key technical and management people. It is probably more important for the technical folks, but this is often ignored. If you are in a position of maintaining and developing COBOL systems on mainframes, and many organizations are, you must recognize that many of the people with these skills are retiring within the next decade. This is good because it gets the traditional thinkers out of the picture; however, you’ll lose valuable domain and technical experience. You need to either transition away from those technologies or start transitioning new staff into the appropriate positions. In doing this for either the technical or management positions, one of the key areas that successful organizations focus on during succession
planning is the need to keep it flexible.