Keeping Good Employees

Over the past +21 plus years of working in IT I’ve worked for six different companies.  I’ve worked on some great teams and those that really need some help.  A few times both of these occurred at the same company over time.  The thing I’ve noticed is there’s usually a change that drives away the really good employees and the replacements often are not as good as those they replaced (maybe that’s just my perception though).  That change can be hard to define before it’s too late and most or all of the great workers are gone, resulting in lower output and customer satisfaction.

Why do good employees leave?  There’s numerous reasons for this and the following is a list of them that I’ve seen first hand.

  • Overworked
  • No upward movement within company (promotions)
  • Talked down to
  • Lack of culture
  • Lack of trust
  • Not competitive in pay and/or overpaying those who don’t deserve it
  • Lack of training

I currently work at a larger company, which I won’t name, that has both reputations of being a great place to work and a bad place to work. In the past I worked within one division that developed software. My manager was always challenging me with “what would it take to…” questions and I was expected to research, architect, test and then report back with a solution. I was EXPECTED to go out and learn about all new technologies (on company time) in order to complete these challenges. It was great. Yes, I also had to “keep the lights on” and upgrade/patch the existing solutions we had in place as well.

I now work within Enterprise IT and for most managers and staff it’s the complete opposite.  People request training and most of the time it’s met with a NO.  Sometimes we get to go but that’s only if it’s budgeted into a current project. I’m one of the few going to vendor events, training classes, and getting involved with vendor programs, such as #vExpert and #PernixPro   When I work on projects I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “no ones told me how to do that” when I ask if a task has been completed. This includes things as simple as installing and configuring DHCP on Windows Server 2008 R2.

I’ve only missed one year since 2007 for a specific conference and the one request I had when moving to EIT was that I get to keep going.  I was told that would be OK and I didn’t think anything else about it. Two weeks before registration opened I submitted my official request, which was approved right away. I registered the first day it was open, picked my hotel, and booked flights. Six weeks later I learned 5 others within my area will be attending as well, 4 for the first time.  I was excited that my company was investing in these people.  This would help us tremendously as I keep hearing how we want to change the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality and we’re usually 5 years behind in basic technologies.

Four days before the conference the “bad place to work” rears its ugly head again. I was told cutbacks need to be made and one person would not be going to the conference in order to save travel dollars.  I was assured it wasn’t me as I was the first one approved. I checked with my boss the next couple days and was told no one was being held back and we’re all going.

Then the bomb drops.  Noon on Friday (less than 24 hours before most were to leave) management decided one person wouldn’t go after all. I was not the chosen one as suspected earlier in the week. I thought it was crappy to do this so close to the conference. Then the second bomb. One hour later the CIO states that no one can go. WHAT THE HELL!!!

After some digging we found out that only travel is being pulled as there was no way to get conference fees back. After hours of talks I was told that is the final decision from the CIO.  My boss really believes in training and told me to find a way to get flights paid for, if I could.  I wouldn’t be able to fill out an expense report for any costs acquired for the week. Luckily for me the community in which I’m heavily involved came to my rescue so I’m writing this post from the conference.

But back to the topic of this post. Over the past +21 years I have had training pulled from me that I already had scheduled and booked.  I understand this happens and I’m OK with it so long as it’s not 24 hours before the conference, or even 72 hours.  It shows a lack of vision, planning, and investment in your employees by management  If I had a week to figure out how to get my flights and hotel paid for I could have easily done so. I could have acqured the same for a couple others as well.  Getting it done within 4 hours on a Friday afternoon though? That is a completely different story.

This also has me thinking about the company I work for.  I keep hearing about how they can’t get/keep good employees and they “don’t know why.”  Well, here’s one example.

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