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Post by Rich Moy on Jun 28, 2018 12:00:00 PM

On the surface, the concept of managing employees seems simple. You set their goals, help them work towards hitting them, and make adjustments whenever necessary. Of course, it’s much more complicated than that. Jeff Haden of CBS MoneyWatch once wrote, “Managing is straightforward; leadership is not. You really earn your management stripes when the right answer is, at times, also the hardest answer.”

Earning those management stripes often means making mistakes along the way. But even with the pressure to hire developers increasing, here are a few pitfalls that all talent acquisition leaders should avoid.

Being Too Hands-Off

Many managers don’t want to micromanage their employees. As a result, they often overcorrect by being hands-off and intervening only when issues arise. Recruiters might appreciate this at first, but without any guidance around your company’s top priorities, they'll eventually grow frustrated by the uncertainty around your talent acquisition strategy.

So, how do you empower your direct reports while keeping them on track? Experts often suggest giving your employees more autonomy, which makes perfect sense. But Frances McIntosh of International Coaching LLC says that while increasing their responsibility is critical, it means much more than assigning tasks and stepping away.

“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘Do this and get on with it,’” she adds. “It’s discussing the project, strategies and concerns upfront and being available to answer questions and give feedback. The more you practice this, the easier it gets.”

Ignoring Your Recruiters’ Career Goals

Nobody at your company would blame you for working hard to hire developers. But in addition to executing your talent acquisition strategy, you also need to keep track of each of your direct reports’ career goals.

David Ballard of the American Psychological Association says that the training and development programs available to professionals often leaves much to be desired. Ballard also suggests that this affects employee morale and could have a negative impact on business objectives. “For working Americans without supervisor support, only 48% say they are motivated to do their best at work,” he writes.

With that in mind, sit down with your recruiters to discuss their career goals. Do they want to move into senior-level or management roles? Do those opportunities exist at your company? Are you helping them get to where they want to be? Document your takeaways from each conversation, and whenever possible, follow up with each person to ensure that you’re supporting their growth.

Focusing Too Much on Your Open Roles

Companies of all sizes want to hire developers faster. As a talent acquisition leader, that falls on your shoulders. But even with that pressure, tracking your progress on critical roles too closely will create unnecessary stress for you and your entire team.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t communicate the urgency behind your hiring needs. Recruiters need to know which roles are lacking quality candidates and what they can be doing to improve those pipelines. At the same time, give them more context. Telling them that they need to find a mobile developer as soon as possible doesn't inspire anyone to go the extra mile.

During your one-on-one meetings, review each person’s progress. Once you’ve outlined the challenges, give them the space to talk about external factors that could be affecting their performance. Perhaps one person is having difficulty with a hiring manager’s requirements. In other cases, a recruiter might be finding an even more challenging talent pool than you expected. The number of developers that you need to hire might be daunting, but you won’t find them by constantly reminding your team that they’re falling behind.

Being Too Risk-Averse

Think about the last time one of your recruiters had an outside-the-box idea. How did you react? If you dismissed it without truly evaluating it, you’re probably not alone. That doesn’t mean that your response was the right one.

You designed a talent acquisition strategy based on your research and previous experience. There’s no denying your expertise, but your recruiters might have had success with tactics that you’re not familiar with. As uneasy as this probably makes you, some of your team’s ideas could lead to long-term success. Additionally, since the competition for tech talent shows no signs of slowing down, hitting your tech recruitment goals might require you to take the occasional risk.

Whenever you’re considering a new developer hiring tactic, ask your engineering team for feedback. Find out if this new approach would make them want to engage with a potential employer. If the answer is an overwhelming “yes,” be bold and give it a try.

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