By Raymond Vrabel, Director, Technical Account Management, Continuum
Second part of a monthly blog series examining tips on how MSPs can work to break “bad” business habits that they might unknowingly fall into as a result of just wanting to get things done.
In the premiere installment of “Breaking Bad,” I discussed how MSPs can get to know their customers better. Now, in this month’s blog, I continue this theme by exploring the other lifeblood of an MSP’s business--your employees. More specifically, I dive into how you can retain and keep solid employees and talent, once you get them onboard.
Let’s look at a few best practices that I have firsthand knowledge of from speaking with MSPs when it comes to hiring and keeping staff that best aligns with your business. These tips apply to any staff member including techs, marketing and sales, and administrative and support staff.
1.) Take the time to hire and retain good talent: There are many MSPs that have admittedly shared that they hire people whom they thought would work out and then they leave after a few months for a better opportunity. Or, on the flipside, they aren’t a good fit for the company and their employment is terminated. To hire smart, MSPs should have frank conversations with current employees—find out their satisfaction level. Customer satisfaction is very important, but employee satisfaction is just as important (or maybe even more so). In fact, replacing employee turnover is one of the largest hidden costs most MSPs don’t even think about. These individuals are literally the livelihood of the company, and are in place to ensure that customers are happy and that business runs smoothly.
MSPs should streamline the interview process. In addition to the MSP meeting with potential candidates, have senior staff members and others they might be working closely with meet during the interview process. This allows gauging the opinions of staff and getting their input on candidates. They might see certain strengths and possible weaknesses that you might not be seeing and vice-versa. Remember, diversity is key and obtaining as much feedback as possible helps in ensuring hiring the right candidate for the position.
2.) Offer incentives and feedback – and listen: Another key to hiring smart is to conduct reviews and offer employee incentives. I have spoken with MSPs who have said they were regularly losing techs each year and couldn’t figure out why. They seemed happy, but then, after a few months, would leave for what they said was a better deal. How do you break this cycle? Begin by always keeping the lines of communication open. Talk to your employees and let them know how they are doing. Praise them publicly for their successes and privately discuss what needs improvement. Make sure their incentive plans are also aligned with your business goals.
Similar to your clients, become your employees’ trusted adviser and let your staff know that you are available to listen to them, help to resolve issues and offer feedback. Regarding incentives, offer programs such as BYOD, quarterly bonuses and cost of living increases as well as additional training and educational opportunities.
3.) Invest in employees; build up the team: Investing in employees means taking the time to let them know they are part of a team and something bigger; they are not just “worker bees” that you have hired to put more money into your pocket. Make them feel like they are part of a real team by sharing your personal goals both individually and company-wide. This retains their buy-in and will have a positive impact. If they are kept in the dark on where the company is going and how well (or not) it is doing, they might become complacent or anxious, and might start looking for a “better” job. Even meeting quarterly with your team for a reality check gives them a sense of camaraderie and peace of mind that personal and long-term company goals are on track.
The key message is that if you want to hire and retain top talent for the long-term, make sure you are pulling all the stops to make them feel as though they are part of something bigger. Keep the lines of communication open, and create an atmosphere where everyone enjoys working together, and the general consensus is that everyone, no matter what their position, is contributing to the company’s successes.
Raymond Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team which supports more than 3,300 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions.