Talent retention seems simple: hire qualified people, treat them well, pay them fairly, and they’ll stay for life, right? Well, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. Finding and retaining top talent is a hot topic, especially in IT market. As my MSP business has reached the $10 million mark, I’ve learned that how you approach talent can either drive your business’ success or lead to its failure. Unfortunately, there is no middle ground. If you want to set your business up for success and become a $10 million MSP, you need to focus on nurturing and retaining your rising stars. So, where can you start?
In the first post of this series, I talked about five important lessons all MSPs should know before beginning the journey to $10M. Now that we’ve started, let’s take a deeper look into how you can optimize your current team to ensure sustainable success. Here are five key questions you should be asking yourselves to help build a team of top talent:
1. Why Would Someone Want to Work Here?
Recruiting talented team members won't be possible if they aren't interested in coming on board. Basic employees need a paycheck. Top employees need a purpose. Team members who show up with passion and drive need to know they are part something big. So, you need to ask yourself; “what makes our mission different, and why would someone want to get involved?”
Successful teams don't rally behind financials; they come together to build something worth building. After you establish a purpose, finding talent will be a much easier step two. When team members can say why they want to work here, they will tell others and advocate for your business. And in the end, having dedicated employees leads to higher-quality work for your business.
2. How Do We Show Our Team Members That We Trust Them to Be Smart?
"Hire smart people and let them be smart" is a motto we say often inside our organization. I've watched many organizations hire amazing talent only to make them a simple cog in a machine and lose them to boredom as quickly as the next opportunity comes along. As humans, we are wired to use our intellect. The more our team members can put their brilliance to work, the more that brilliance creates deep experience and better results. Some of the biggest successes happen when team members can step out from behind a process to take a critical action they know is right, even if it's not part of the written plan. Similarly, some of the biggest failures happen when everyone follows the process without considering the end result. As business leaders, we have to point our team members towards the big picture and show them how to use that perspective to make smart decisions.
3. Am I Letting My Team Members Self-Criticize?
I’ve found that most employees are their own biggest critics. Sometimes it's hidden behind the façade that everything is going fine, but if you dig deep enough it's there. If we can tap into self-criticism, we can create more immediate positive change in our teams and people.
Leaders often criticize first and listen second. However, this immediately puts team members on the defensive. Recently, I challenged a team member on his lack of timely communication on a key topic. He immediately responded with justification about his performance, his heavy workload, and the reasons why my criticism was unwarranted. In digging deeper, I learned that he's well aware of his challenge in timely communication and it's at the top of his list of things he's intent on improving. Thus, we created a plan together. Simply asking someone the question "what are you working to improve" can shift the conversation from reactionary excuse-making to a true coaching opportunity.
4. What Roadblocks Are My Team Members Facing?
Once you've assembled a team of smart people and enabled them to put their intelligence to work, leadership focus has to shift from controlling your team members to removing their barriers. Instead of starting employee conversations with the generic “How's it going?” it’s far more effective to ask “What roadblocks are in your way?”. Each time you ask that question, you have an opportunity to create efficiency and show your team members that you are focused on letting them move forward.
5. Is Our Culture a Competitive Advantage?
As an MSP, we are in the business of people. Yes, we deliver technology services but we are judged far more on how the customer perceives the relationship than technical metrics and certifications. A culture that systematically attracts, cultivates, and retains the people that clients want to work with can drive more long-term revenue growth than the best sales and marketing plan.
Now, we could go on for a lot longer on this topic. However, I’ll save this conversation for the next post in our “Making your way to $10M” series. Be sure to check back next month as we’ll dig into what makes a successful company culture, and how you can rethink yours to create depth and long-term profitability.