Work on the 'Hard Stuff' to Improve Retention

Susan Hall
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If the Job Fits

Five questions you should ask before accepting your next IT job.

Interestingly enough, the Network World article, "Three Easy Ways to Get Better at the Hard Stuff" overlaps with the Forbes post, "Top 10 Reasons Why Large Companies Fail To Keep Their Best Talent."


It makes it sound as if getting better at the "hard stuff" would help you keep key staff. While that's not necessarily true, it should certainly help.


  • From Network World: Have a compelling vision or purpose to share. It says cutting costs or increasing revenue aren't compelling to staffers. Instead, it points to NASA's vision, which "extols the value of revealing the unknown 'so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.'"
  • Forbes: Failing to find a project for the talent that ignites their passion. It says:
Top talent isn't driven by money and power, but by the opportunity to be a part of something huge, that will change the world, and for which they are really passionate. Big companies usually never spend the time to figure this out with those people.
  • From Network World: Foster ownership, commitment and idea sharing. At a recent conference, one CIO recommended getting staff involved in any transformation plan as early as possible to break through the barriers to it.
  • Forbes: OK, I found three: Big company bureaucracy (a mass of rules and no voice in the process), shifting whims/strategic priorities, (failure to commit to a project and to give staff time to deliver), and lack of vision, though that echoes point No. 1 above.
  • From Network World: Make two-way communication "relentless and boring." It says you really can't overdo it in communicating information about projects and impending change. But I focused on the words "two-way." That means listening as much as talking.
  • From Forbes: Lack of open-mindedness. It explains:
... a lot of companies have a vision/strategy which they are trying to execute against - and, often find opposing voices to this strategy as an annoyance and a sign that someone's not a "team player." If all the best people are leaving and disagreeing with the strategy, you're left with a bunch of "yes" people saying the same things to each other. You've got to be able to listen to others' points of view - always incorporating the best parts of these new suggestions.

The "hard stuff" is called that for a reason. But as retention becomes an ever-bigger issue, it might be easier - and certainly less costly - than letting your best people walk out the door.

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