Promoting indoor activities by keeping the lights on. by Might Mitresky | November, 2022

Ability to retain talent is an essential aspect of organizations

Unsplash. Photo by Per Wither Nordley-Mathison

To retain top talent, you have to keep employees engaged. This includes opportunities to learn regularly and match their level of ambition.

Sometimes, this means that people want to move to a different field, learn a new business area, or work with other technologies. It could also be a major carrier change, such as moving from customer support to engineering. It can also be a light move from individual contributor to manager track, or vice versa, or a change in technology.

If the right opportunities are not promoted within the company, the employee is likely to leave.

Now it’s easy enough to say, “Managers should always take the higher ground and do the right thing for the company by finding employee jobs on another team.” That said, most technology companies are growing rapidly. Teams are in an ongoing situation of lack of adequate talent.

As the lead of the lead, I have been part of a few cases where we need to agree on a time frame for a move. In some cases, there are clear cases of intercompany employee poaching. In others, it has been more of people trying to block a move. While it’s easy to say that they clearly shouldn’t, I would say the incentives need to align. Incentives come from the actions of senior leadership.

Even with the recession we face in 2023, engineering is in high demand, so ensuring they can move internally opens up for extended retention. When employees change teams, they expand their knowledge and development, which is a win-win for them and expands their knowledge base.

The big win for the company is an existing employee who knows Bob from HR or Alice from IT support and has an internal network. They will also potentially bring in multiple internal references, which can take months, if not years, to the new position, so the company saves that onboarding time.

Some of the questions that are asked frequently are more on downsides and edge cases.

next week? today? Well, if both teams are losing and a receiving employee can fit it into their time limit, then yes, as fast as possible. But this rarely happens in product teams unless the person is working on a short-term project they will actually be in the current team’s plan. If they aren’t necessary, it will be a bigger concern than what that team is actually providing.

As a rule, I have asked the current team to keep that person as long as there is a regular resignation period. If it is employment at will, then that is what people should expect. If it’s three months, then like most of northern Europe, it’s three months. At the end of the day, we want to keep the lights on, and losing a person internally shouldn’t hurt more than losing a business externally.

Some companies have strange policies of not allowing transfers. They don’t want to promote employees from “low cost” places to high cost places. While I understand the incentive for the company to keep the cost reasonable, if you are already hiring and allowing relocation to the US, but you are not allowing EU internal ones to relocate If so, this is madness. A person who has worked in the company knows that and will be quicker to hit the ground than to run outside. Even if you strongly believe in your hiring process, it’s still a hit and miss while keeping the inner person you already know.

Let’s say you have someone who wants to move from frontend to backend or learn AWS while working mostly with Java, is this step ok? In general, I’d say that most engineering roles are interchangeable, but I’m not saying that the specialty is unimportant, there aren’t “highly skilled” people in either category, or that people with a deep knowledge of the programming language are lacking.

So, in general, yes, for most moves. The main factor should be the will power of the individual to learn.

Well, if you’re in employment-at-will, like in some parts of the US, you’re on probation all the time, I’d say use your best judgment but be biased towards the movement. In most of the European Union, however, there is a concept of indefinite employment that begins after a probationary period. There I would say that the movement in the probation period should be carefully considered from both sides.

To ensure a proper assessment and a fresh start a person relocating should be considered a complete reset and by all means a fresh reappointment.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more.

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