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Post by Rich Moy on May 24, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Most executives understand the importance of filling open roles, especially when your company lacks the tech talent that it needs. A mere 16% of developers are actively looking for new jobs, and the competition to hire them is more difficult than ever. But with that level of urgency, how can you ensure that the right people fill your most critical developer jobs? How do you respond when management just wants you to hire someone, as long as that person is remotely qualified?

A recent McKinsey Quarterly article by Mike Barriere, Miriam Owens, and Sarah Pobereskin studied how the CEO of a consumer-products company redefined critical roles and linked talent to value. We pulled out a few key takeaways that you can use to optimize your tech talent acquisition strategy and get everyone across your organization on the same page.

Know Which Roles Create and Enable Value for Your Organization

Barriere, Owens, and Pobereskin found that there are two types of individual contributors that most companies need to hire. Some people will be value creators, while others will be value enablers.

Based on their analysis of this consumer-products company, they defined each one in simple terms. “Value creators directly generate revenue, lower operating costs, and increase capital efficiency,” they write. “Value enablers, such as leaders of support functions like cybersecurity or risk management, perform indispensable work that enables the creators.”

These definitions make it easier for you to communicate the value of your tech talent acquisition strategy. Not only are developers responsible for building the products that your company sells, but they also enable your sales and marketing professionals to do their jobs well.

Create More Specific Requirements for Your Most Critical Roles

The CEO that Barriere, Owens, and Pobereskin profiled for this study realized that she didn’t have a deep enough understanding of the most vital roles in her organization. To remedy this, she sat down to identify the 50 highest-value roles. Once she had that list, the management team created even more specific requirements for each of those roles. Not only did this clearly define responsibilities, but it gave everyone at the company an unbiased and objective view of each of these positions.

“The specificity of role requirements for Company X encouraged a more objective view of incumbent managers,” Barriere, Owens, and Pobereskin continue. “Rigorously assessing incumbents against value-linked role requirements typically leads a company to realize that 20 to 30 percent of those in critical roles are not well matched.”

What would you find if you did this exercise for your company? It might be painful to discover that up to 30 percent of your most essential developer jobs are currently filled by people who aren’t fully qualified for their positions. At the same time, it will also help your entire management team understand the value of your talent acquisition strategy.

Always Optimize Your Tech Talent Strategy

Recently, we’ve discussed optimizing your tech recruitment strategy in great detail. Barriere, Owens, and Pobereskin add to this idea by recommending that talent acquisition leaders should also be willing to take feedback from executives about its current workforce and roles.

“Working alongside business leaders, the team might also assess changes in the performance of individuals in critical roles,” the article suggests. “Asking questions such as, “Is this individual delivering the value expected? What interventions (for instance, coaching or better-aligned incentives) can support this individual?”

While nobody is suggesting that you let other managers dictate how you hire developers, it’s still important to solicit their feedback and participation in this way. When your executives know that you’re willing to take this level of input and optimize your talent management strategy, it’ll be difficult for them to ignore the importance of your team’s work to the entire company.

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