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How To Retain Staff?

CRN's "When I Grow Up" video had everybody chuckling at the Channel Champs awards ceremony at the XChange Solution Provider conference. But it raised a serious question: Who is the future of the IT channel business?

"When I Grow Up" video

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LARRY HOOPER
Can be reached via e-mail at lrhooper@cmp.com.

Sure, people are laughing at the jokes, some only those of us in the channel could love, others just darned funny. And the kids are awfully cute.

But the video, first played at the CRN Channel Champions awards dinner at the XChange Solution Provider conference and now a popular video on ChannelWeb.com, makes a salient point that isn't made often enough in the channel: Who is the future of the business? From whence will they come? What schools will they attend? What will they study?

Because for all the talk I hear of solution providers having trouble hiring people, I hear very little about what is being done to develop young talent and steer it into channel-related careers.

And it has been said before but it is worth repeating: Nobody grows up dreaming to be a VAR or a channel chief.

Solution providers tell me the hiring situation is getting worse. Solid technical people with the right skill sets are getting harder and harder to find. And then there is that training conundrum: Find people with potential, develop them, train them and get them certified only to watch them jump to a competitor for $5,000 more per year.

And it is no better on the sales side. Solution providers say that finding salespeople who can talk technology and sell solutions rather than boxes is getting tougher.

So, what's the answer? VARs at the recent XChange say there isn't one answer. Some are volunteering at local high schools and capturing mind share with potential employees early in their career-development process.

Others are betting that a path of constant career development with training will keep employees happy. Yes, there will be those employees who take advantage of the training only to jump ship to a competitor, but overall, the investment pays off, they say. Still others say the path to retaining talent is to empower employees with ownership over the processes they touch. Let practice managers choose new product lines or plan new practices, for example.

Achieving strong employee retention channelwide will take a multilayered approach, but it starts with the conversation. Let's keep it going.

What's your employee retention plan?
Let me know at lrhooper@cmp.com.

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