I have a question for you: do you really know what your technical experts do?
Let’s imagine you have an employee who is thinking about leaving your organization. He is one of your technical experts, a senior developer named Enzo. He is being heavily recruited. Currently, you know the following about Enzo:
- He’s been with you for twelve years
- He’s thirty-six years old
- He’s married, with two kids receiving health benefits
- He makes $142,000, which is within an appropriate salary range
for his role
- He has worked in your US HQ and your Singapore office
- On Myers-Briggs he’s an INTJ
- He is the go-to guy for the ADM database and for the security
...and that’s about all you can say about Enzo. The rest of his technical talent profile that tells us why Enzo is so valuable to your organization is on the other side of what we in my consulting firm call "the technical fog. The technical fog is a metaphor for a manager’s typically inability to see deeply into the specific tasks performed and skills applied by a critical technical professional.
Understanding What Your Technical Experts REALLY Do
Does any of this sound familiar?
If so, then you share in a common problem facing so many managers of technically-skilled groups or teams today: you need a proven, practical, and effective way to lift the technical fog and concretely know the critical work that your technical experts do day in and day out.
If you cannot see through the technical fog, you cannot inventory and manage your unique technical capacity—and that means you can’t identify and manage your talent risks either. The first step to lifting the technical fog is to stop settling for HR-style data on your technical workforce that doesn’t get down to the task level of what each person actually knows how to do. The work of getting this relevant, detailed talent data and then lifting the technical fog to make better decisions is called talent risk management.
Lifting the Technical Fog
For more than two decades, my consulting team and I have worked with Fortune 500s and some of the most complex workforces on the planet to help them lift the fog in managing their technical talent risk with our 3-step process. If you want to learn more about how to lift the technical fog, I’ll be discussing it further in the following articles of this three part series. You can also get a sneak peek of my new book on the topic: Do You Have WHO It Takes: Managing Talent Risk In A High-Stakes Technical Workforce.
Rest assured, it is possible to know more relevant information about your most critical technical workers without hiring scores of statisticians or drowning in complex processes—in fact it’s not even all that difficult.