One of the major issues that will remain a challenge for most SMB IT resellers is the recruitment and retention of qualified staff. Many times I have been asked questions like – how much should I pay? Should I get a more senior person or more junior people? What skills do I need to look for when it comes to supporting the Microsoft Cloud? My response to that is to say that you are going about things the wrong way.
The challenge with staff is that they are human beings. This makes them imperfect for any task for which you employ them. Also, even if you do manage to employ the ‘prefect’ candidate, they can resign from the business at any time. Given the pace of Microsoft Cloud technologies there will always need to be further investment in skills and knowledge to remain effective. This is a hard job, as many business owners already know, but there is a far better approach in my books.
The thing that I don’t see readily implements in most businesses is a training and onboarding system. The idea is that you build a system that will produce the results or skill levels you are after. In that way, you can simply input just about any candidate at one end and out the other end will pop a highly effective and skilled member of your business.
Having a system means you don’t have to spend time looking for people with the ‘right’ technical skill level and paying them a fortune. You can in fact focus more on what is truly important when it comes to employees, attitude. As the saying goes, you can train skills but you can’t train attitude.
A good employee will also welcome a structured developed path that they can progress along. A system like this also allow the use of metrics to flag employees that are struggling and even though excelling, so they can be given more opportunities.
The biggest challenge obviously comes with building a system. Problem is that most people look at the end result, decide it is all too hard and then fall back on antiquated approaches that don’t work. The best way to start, is just to start! You don’t have to develop the prefect system immediately, you can grow into it over time. The important thing is to start and keep working on it, because as we know, the skills requirements will continue to change over time.
I wrote an article a while back:
Key skills for an IT Professional
that I would suggest is a good place to start when determining what training topics to look at. There are also many resources you can use to help people get skilled up and most are free. The secret is to set them out in a curriculum so people know what is required of them and what they need to learn. Simply leaving people to ‘learn by experience’ doesn’t cut it in this field any more. Likewise, learning on the customers’ dime is not a good business practice to do regularly.
A skilled employee has more confidence when they approach challenges and are much more likely to stay with a business that has invested in them and has a formal training system that encourages them to grow.
Best of all, because it is a system, it can be used over and over again when new employees are brought on board. This will also provide a consistency of knowledge throughout the business and if done right, promotes greater sharing of information and mentoring amoung staff. The idea is that you use the people who use the system to help build, extend and maintain it as they are best placed to do exactly that by already being part of the system. Remember, you should not see the system as limited just to the content it contains but also the people who utilise it. You want to create a system that suits a broad audience, who learn via different methods and learn at different speeds.
In short, investing your time looking for the ‘prefect’ employee is an ineffective approach to building the skills and team you need in a business. It is far better to invest in building the ‘prefect’ training system that you can have total control over, own and will give the desired output for just about any input.