Skip to content Skip to navigation

What’s Keeping IT Hiring Managers Up at Night?

October 30, 2014
by John Yurkschatt
| Reprints
Five top challenges facing hiring managers today, and tips for hiring and retaining key employees

IT Hiring Managers have their share of perks and rewards. They are in a position to influence change, inspire others and build winning teams. They usually receive an attractive compensation package, the attention of leadership, continuous professional training, the corner office, and more.

However, there’s a price to pay for the privileges to lead and have status. Hiring Managers have to deal with tough issues on a daily basis. We talk with hiring managers every day and found these are the top 5 challenges that keep them up at night.

1. Meeting Project Deadlines. Meeting project deadlines are critical to the success of any IT department—but meeting a deadline can be challenging. Projects will and do get derailed if managers fail to set realistic timelines for deliverables, lack sufficient funds and resources, and fail to get the support and backing of leadership. Failing to meet project deadlines can spiral into project or career failure. While deadlines are the most vexing issue of time management, there are ways to deal with them:​

  • Set clear expectations up front and create a list of action items required.
  • Negotiate due dates; sometimes they aren’t carved in stone.
  • Learn to say “no” up front if a deadline is not doable/workable and renegotiate the target date.
  • Ask for help. Most people, including hiring managers, don’t want to admit that there’s a problem or something that they can’t do alone without help. However, if crunched for time and need to pick up the pace, it’s best to ask for help than fail to meet a project deadline.

2. Losing Top Performers. Losing key people and top performers can set projects back in addition to causing ripple effects, including: it triggers IT departments to hire or contract supplemental staff; it overextends the budget; and, worst of all, it results in tenured knowledge walking out the door. That being the case, it’s surprising when hiring managers wait until the resignation letter hits their desk to do something about retaining their top talent. At this point, it usually comes down to a counteroffer. To avoid losing top performers, an effective employee retention program should be in place. Make sure that star players are paid competitive or above competitive wages, have challenging work, get recognition and rewards, and receive job promotions. Top performers need to see a future with the company. 

3. Making the Right Hiring Decisions. It’s costly to make a hiring mistake and costly to correct it. Consider this: it takes 39 days to fill a key IT position. Can you imagine not having a star performer in a critical role for upwards of 40 days? That’s why hiring managers often find themselves agonizing over which candidate is the best one to hire. The best way to avoid this is to have an effective hiring process in place that includes behavioral interviewing, selection assessments, multiple inputs, offer of shadowing, hiring on an interim basis (try before buy), and working with a good search firm.

4. Resolving Team Conflicts. There is not a team in the world, whether in a sporting environment or in an IT department, that has not experienced conflict. Bad outcomes happen when hiring managers don’t see it coming or don’t know how to deal with conflict properly. What are the best ways to resolve a team conflict?  Keep a cool head, go to the source of the conflict, actively listen to what is being said, deal with it early, and set team behavior rules and expectations. 

5. Terminating an Employee. Telling an employee that they are no longer with the company is probably the most difficult task for any hiring manager.  The ramifications are enormous. By terminating employment, a hiring manager impacts an employee’s livelihood, self-esteem and family.  Also, the entire IT team is adversely affected. They wonder about their hiring manager’s judgment as well as their own job security. Therefore, employee morale suffers.  What a hiring manager can do when terminating an employee is to help with outplacement services and provide a fair severance package.

Today’s hyper-competitive and demanding IT environment along with the challenges of talent management are keeping IT hiring managers up at night. All combined, these challenges force IT hiring managers to be flexible, agile, multi-task oriented, strategic planners, communication experts, and metrics analysts to be most effective to their organizations.  

John Yurkschatt is the director of the IT Services Practice for Direct Consulting Associates (DCA), a Cleveland, Ohio-based IT consulting and staffing firm.