Keeping Your Team

Comings and goings are disruptive and costly. Good firms have low staff turnovers. For example, Microsoft was rated the number one employer in the United Kingdom in 2003 (The Sunday Times "100 Best Companies to Work for" survey, March 2, 2003) and only had a 5 percent annual staff turnover.

One of the principal reasons why people in the IT industry change jobs is overwork. They may not mind it, but their family and children certainly will. Eventually, they cave in to outside pressure and start looking around. It doesn't make for good long-term productivity, and it denies you the ability to go into overdrive when you meet a real problem.

We can all name colleagues who continually work a 14-hour day. There's always some new panic owing to bad planning and indifferent supervision. The result is that the employee gets tired and irritable and starts making bad decisions. Their home life disintegrates because they don't have one. Boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, and husbands leave, and then they really do have a problem, and so do you.

A company that has gotten itself into this position finds it very hard to reward employees for exceptional work because the exception has become the rule. What do the employees do? They do the only thing they can; they leave.

Football team managers don't have hang-ups about keeping their players. They appreciate that their business is dynamic; so is yours. Good people are always in demand. Don't be surprised when a rival offers to pay big to attract your employees. Make sure you always have your eyes on replacements for all members of your team. Similarly, work out what their promotion prospects should be and what would be the best project or type of work for them to tackle next, not just from the company's point of view but from theirs as well.

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