Andy McKay

Nov 02, 2011

Getting special treatment

This article explaining why technical people don't want to work at your companythis one got me annoyed.

Let's run through a couple of points:

Every element of their work will be pored over by multiple layers of bureaucracy. Even if thats how the rest of the company operates, it cant spill into the digital department.

Fast Company

Because working in a company with multiple layers of bureaucracy, that's there for no reason, is fun for everyone right? No matter what the job, if the bureaucracy is there for a good reason (perhaps you are making life saving medical equipment for example), that shouldn't be a problem as long as layers are justified.

While clocking out at 5 p.m. is attractive to some, it will discourage digital talent. They want to be expected to do something great. They want to be pushed. They care about their work.

Fast Company

Leaving at 5 p.m. is unreasonable because maintaining a reasonable life balance, or being efficient and getting work done, or having responsibilities outside work are not relevant. Moving past that, any professional who goes to work not caring about, not wanting to be a little challenged and in the end doing a good job they can be proud of, is not an employee you want.

Trial and error is condemned. The freedom to try out new ideas allows employees to take initiative, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes.

Fast Company

Any business must be willing to let employees make initiatives and come up with new ideas. This is how businesses grow and evolve.

Your company is structured so it takes a lifetime to get to the top

Fast Company

Stop thinking about "digital" as special. Any company that's based on purely time served is one doomed to fail. People should be promoted on merit and skills, in most cases it takes time to acquire those skills in technical and management. Just promoting people because they are "digital" who don't have those other skills, is even worse.

Your offices are cold, impersonal and downright stodgy

Fast Company

Who would want to work there.

Remove the phrase "digital" and you have a business where no employee who has a choice about their job would want to work.

What's really happening

In the old days, you'd get a job and stay there for a long time. You'd get good pensions lock in, the business models would persist, people would move into their career and stay in the job. That's all changed. Employee mobility has become almost a requirement in the modern business world.

Business models are being destroyed and new ones created. People move jobs so much faster than ever before. There are fewer private pensions anymore.

So let's look at it from a different point of view:

  • At the moment the technical industry is in a bubble (or a boom for the less cynical), there is a high demand for technical staff.
  • Technically employees tend to be younger, although still spread out across all demographics.
  • Younger people are more mobile.

So, technical employees likely have a choice of positions at different companies. Take an employee, a doctor, engineer, lawyer, accountant, whatever and give them a choice of companies. Would they choose the business described in the article? I doubt it.

The problem of hiring technical staff is not related to gimmicks or tricks focused on hiring young developers. It shouldn't be focused on special treatment because they are "digital". Instead focus on creating a great company. Encourage innovation, respect, pride and a good work environment. That will get you good staff, be them technical or otherwise.