How to Hire and Retain the Talent Transformers

Author: Awkash Agrawal,  Engineering Leader, Product and Platform Engineering at Altimetrik.

There is always a Gaussian curve to fit most of the problems. In the world where there is always a need for superior talent, there is always a front line drawn between companies to attract nothing but the best. Though every organization wants the best talent there is always a legacy left behind. This is due to the ageing product, a solution created in the mid-’90s is still in use. This gave rise to a new age sought after talent transformers.

These folks are real workhorse who not only complete their own things but help the group of people to move forward. One of the critical aspects is how you find these folks from the masses. There are primarily identified by 3 A’s (Aptitude, Attitude and Amplification). Aptitude will help them stand out of the crowd, attitude will help them bringing best from others and Amplification will help them scale in various aspects like people, process and tech.

These talent transformers are driven by the purpose to retain them in the long run, It is the onus on an organization to create an ecosystem where they can find their purpose. Once that ecosystem is in place this is going to be a sticky business and as I told in my first line it will be easier for us to retain them.

There are different stages in any organization at different maturity level, if it has to be compared with typical CMM level first establish a process, second we fix any gaps in that process and third we mature the process eventually we look for optimization. In the same context, each of these stages is applied for the talent transformers organization first establish the need for such folks and hire them. The second organization provides the right tools to them for making an impact. The third organization creates an environment to utilize its capabilities to the maximum. Lastly, it looks to elevate them to the next level where they can be role models for others. As the ecosystem is evolving, there is a very short cycle to complete all these levels in months and not years. This evolution needs to be rapid with a caution of not to collapse. There were many instances available where some organizations tried to run too fast and eventually not succeeding in getting talent transformers to a place where they want them to, similarly there are instances where organizations were moving too slow and loosing on those acquired in step 1.

One of the major strategies employed by our organization is that we started with this need upfront, as we knew from the beginning that there is a huge gap between available talent pool and industry needs. Take an example of one of the skills very hot in the market says web flux, see how many readily available resources are there in the market. Thus there is a rise of this brand new phenomenon look inwards. The challenge is we cannot look inwards if we don’t have these talent transformers. These folks are purpose-driven and they drive others who lack those skills. To give concrete examples one of the teams being given 10 skills now the team is further subdivided in a group of 2-3, now this team is incubated with one of the strategic person(Talent transformers). This person turned all of the existing folks without these skills into near experts in straight 3 weeks. This exercise has two major gains for us one now the organization is not sitting on legacy talent and second it is having a new batch of talent transformers to spearhead next activities.

One side of it is to leverage the talent transformers cultivating the change. But it is not enough for any organization to retain the actual talent transformers which are called a strategic guy in my previous lines. It is onus leaders to challenge the status quo for this strategic guy to be ahead of the curve. How to do it is a simple process, you give them targets which are beyond the obvious. This beyond the obvious will come from your daily learning in the form of technology, people and process. I will give an example for each of them. So if a person is inclined on technology to give them the challenge to adopt something that they never have done before for example if he has not done Alexa programming before because he is a microservices guy it would keep him/her on toes to get to next level. Secondly, if a person is having an inclination towards the process for example working in the Agile world ran scrum teams so far give him the challenge to prepare an executive dashboard. If a person is more towards people aspects of it was able to handle say 1-2 teams give him another short assignment to manage technical project managers thus always challenging them to and bring them out of their comfort zone.

Finally, in the last few words, I want to summarize that if you have to hire talent transformers you need to give them vision beyond the obvious. If we need to retain them we need to constantly challenge their limits to solve something not solved yet. It is critical for any organization in this era to have these folks not only for striving to join the elite club but to thrive in the long run. Last but not the least organization needs to create an ecosystem to reward these talent transformers in more than one ways. One of the most important aspects these folks care about recognizing them at the right platform. Given the chance to represent the organization at different forums and conferences. Making sure they feel engaged all the time is the need of an hour.

About the Author

Awkash Agrawal is  Engineering Leader of Product and Platform Engineering at Altimetrik, Pune. He is responsible for leading digital transformation initiatives for clients of Altimetrik. Prior to joining Altimetrik, Awkash has worked with companies such as Expedia, Pitney Bowes, Loylogic and Amdocs. A tech enthusiast, Awkash loves to explore the latest technologies and manage large teams. His hobbies include being a tech blogger and sports aficionado. 


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