IT leadership: 5 ways you could be wasting your team's talent

With competition for IT talent at an all-time high, it's critical to tap the full potential of all your team members. Avoid these common oversights to keep your team productive and ready for future challenges
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Enterprises throughout the world are facing a serious shortage of IT talent. According to a September 2021 survey from Gartner, IT executives cited talent availability as the main adoption risk factor for 75 percent of IT automation technologies. In a broad range of organizations, there aren’t enough qualified employees to deploy new technologies or keep existing systems running efficiently.

In a world with too many open IT positions and not enough candidates to fill them, there is little margin for error as enterprises seek to make the most out of the talent they do have. With the right combination of automation and efficient workflows, IT teams can do more with less and keep operations running smoothly until more talent enters the workforce.

But in spite of this goal, many organizations fail to make the most out of their IT talent due to a combination of large and small inefficiencies.

[ Also read: IT talent strategy: 3 considerations for recruitment and retention in 2022. ]

5 IT talent mistakes to avoid

Here are five big and small ways you may be wasting IT talent:

1. Not providing professional development opportunities

Odds are, your existing employees want to get better at their jobs, either by developing new skills or by enhancing their current competencies. There are many ways to help your employees improve: providing training modules and guest lectures, organizing hackathons to allow them to test their skills, or even providing a funding budget for employees to pursue classes independent of the organization. Technology is always evolving, and your workforce must evolve as well to keep pace.

[ Read next: IT leadership: 3 strategies to build employee development programs ]

2. Ignoring the challenges of hybrid work environments

Over the past year, we’ve seen enterprises large and small grapple with the decision of whether to maintain fully remote workforces or mandate a return to the office. What these top-down decisions fail to understand is that what’s best for your employees may differ from person to person. Some new employees may need to be in the office in order to learn from higher-level employees and develop new skills. Others may thrive under self-directed study, taking the time to research and practice the skills they need for their role.

[ Embrace your organization's hybrid work culture: 5 tips for prioritizing the employee experience ]

To keep everyone engaged and satisfied, take the time to review the needs and preferences of each team member and design their work environment accordingly.

To keep everyone engaged and satisfied, take the time to review the needs and preferences of each team member and design their work environment accordingly.

3. Placing teams in silos

One of the key lessons of digital transformation is that maintaining silos inhibits progress and limits the benefits of any new technology to a single team or business unit.

Silos can also have a detrimental effect on talent development. Today’s IT teams must be able to look beyond individual functions to understand how technology impacts the entire organization. Breaking down silos between teams can help foster creativity as employees from other teams bring fresh perspectives to long-standing challenges.

A well-rounded developer or engineer should be able to apply diverse knowledge and experience to their work, overcoming roadblocks and creating tools to meet business goals.

4. Spending too much time fixing previous mistakes

According to a 2021 survey from Rollbar, 38 percent of developers spend up to a quarter of their time fixing bugs in software, and 26 percent report spending half of their time on debugging. The amount of time and resources devoted to correcting previous mistakes can build up to a serious waste of talent – a waste that is entirely preventable with the use of monitoring and automation.

[ Also read: IT leadership: 3 tips to nurture IT talent. ]

Assuming that an influx of new employees to tackle debugging won’t be coming anytime soon, explore the wide range of third-party tools and microservices that can handle the bulk of debugging work without the need for human intervention. This automation in turn will free up your IT team to focus on developing new solutions or honing their skills with new languages or platforms.

5. Focusing on credentials instead of skills

Today’s IT specialists no longer need a four-year degree in computer science or engineering to be able to do their job. Between the many boot camps and online training resources, it’s entirely possible for new developers to train themselves and gain the skills necessary to provide value to an IT organization.

Limiting your talent search to those with outdated credentials could cause you to miss out on golden opportunities to build out your team. Instead, focus on skills using unbiased assessments that can determine proficiency without knowing a candidate’s educational background or past experience.

Maximizing the potential of your IT employees provides a dual benefit: not only does it help your enterprise to avoid the crunch of a talent shortage, but it also ensures that your employees will be more satisfied with their jobs and career advancement. Tech employees highly value logic and efficiency, and by demonstrating that your organization makes the most out of its teams and technologies, you’ll gain another key selling point as you compete for new talent in a highly contested job market.

[Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask.]

Sachin Gupta is the CEO and Co-Founder of HackerEarth. Sachin is a former software developer at Google and Microsoft, and now heads sales/marketing/operations at HackerEarth. A developer by trade, he is passionate about the developer community and ensuring every developer is connected with the right opportunity.