May 2012: Tech Bosses: Teachers or Graders?


One of the most vital relationships in the workplace is between managers and their staff. In fact, eight in 10 tech professionals say their boss plays an important role in the decision to stay or leave their current firm. Additionally, a company’s reputation and its ability to recruit and compete can be impacted. Yet, when it comes to developing talent, tech managers are not making the grade.

A majority of IT professionals judge their current managers as graders (61%) versus teachers (26%). In tech departments, there is a certain notion of through-put or just getting the work done. However, managers should remember they have benefited along the way from their mistakes. And, it’s crucial to create a nurturing workplace, instead of a pass/fail department.

There will always be a need for some grading, but the emphasis should be on teaching. Tech professionals do their best work when it’s a safe environment to try new solutions, explore alternatives and fail. Over time, wisdom gained equals fewer mistakes, cutting quickly to the best solution and increasing production. That’s a pretty good payback.

The other pay-off? Demonstrating tech employees are valuable to the organization and worth the investment. When a person feels valued, they’re less likely to jump ship. Turnover has been increasing, but it’s fallen below average for 41-straight months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics1. Today, if companies are losing talent quickly – it may be your managers, not the market.

Frankly, companies haven’t felt the repercussions of subpar workplaces in the last three years. But, the gap between the importance of the employee-manager relationship and the way it’s developing is unacceptable. Both sides need to remember this is a lasting connection and one worth the effort.

Tom Silver
Senior Vice-President
North America

1Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS report, professional and business services, voluntary quits.

*A single job posting may reflect more than one skill, location or type of position; therefore total figures for those attributes may be greater than total jobs posted.