June 18, 2012, 3:36 PM — It has long been understood that IT organizations need to invest in their employees. By continually growing their teams' skills, managers build the infrastructure of talent their companies need in order to swiftly capitalize on the latest advances in technology. And focusing on training and development also helps management engage with the workforce in a way that often leads to increased employee loyalty and lower staff turnover.
Today, internal training is just one example of what IT leaders must do to adequately nurture talent. In fact, there is a growing need to extend your development efforts beyond your current staff to the labor market as a whole.
But why should you spend time, effort and potentially dollars on people who don't work for you? Because investing in the development and engagement of all IT professionals will improve the level of talent available to your company and to the entire ecosystem in which your company does business. And when properly executed, efforts to develop outside talent can enhance your company's reputation as an employer.
That, in turn, can improve the reputation of your IT shop -- tech professionals will think of it as a desirable place to work because of your commitment to helping people move forward in their careers.
Despite those benefits, few IT leaders are actively investing in the development of outside talent. Here are three points to consider if you're wondering about the value of pursuing a broader talent outreach initiative.
Transparency. Some employers might be unwilling to educate non-employees because there's a long-standing belief that a company shouldn't discuss IT matters publicly so as not to give up a competitive advantage. Recognizing this concern, you should make a list of your company's proprietary systems and processes in order to identify the information that should truly be categorized as confidential.
It's likely that 80% of the information about the work you do and the systems you use doesn't need to be kept secret. That 80% can be shared with the larger IT talent community. What works? What has failed? What lessons have you learned? Those are the kinds of questions that outside IT professionals would like to discuss with you.
Social media. The social Web is a great vehicle for engaging the IT talent community, but few organizations are taking advantage of it. Many companies have social media strategies, but those strategies are almost always focused on customer outreach or marketing.