5 questions CTOs should ask themselves if they want to retain their top tech talent

We had so much to say about employee retention strategies we couldn’t fit it all in just one article. So this article is the second part of Employee Retention Strategies: keep the best tech talent by your side – if you haven’t read it yet, we advise you to do it before heading to this one.

Recruiting top tech talent and keeping them happily working for you can be a challenge on many levels – especially if you’re the CTO of a startup with a lot of potential, endless work ahead of you, and not that much time to think about what could be made to increase the happiness of your employees.

Sure you want to dedicate some time to work on retention strategies, but you’re building a company at the same time. Yes, you would love to conduct stay interviews and to organize training sessions. If you didn’t have a potential client calling right now. And 50 e-mails to answer. And your CEO pressuring you because of an app feature your team was supposed to have delivered a week ago.

It also happens to big companies, though. CIA (yes, America’s famous spy agency) is going through similar problems. CIA has been having trouble recruiting and retaining tech talent because they can’t match Silicon Valley’s salaries, reputations, and patents – and so, they end up losing their best employees to the competition.


Even if you’re so busy with your startup that you don’t have time to apply the retention strategies we proposed (still don’t know what we’re talking about? Here’s the link to the first part of this article!) at least, focus on the very last item of the list: listen to your employees and work on developing trust in order to obtain genuine feedback.

There’s no magical formula to build trust. It takes time, lots of talks and experiences shared together.

But practice leads to perfection, so in this article, we will present you with a list of questions you should ask yourself. So when listening to your employees, you can get valuable feedback out of your talks, and so make sure they are motivated about their work – and not secretly going to job interviews instead of the dentist. For the third time this month.

And if you’re reading this article from Langley, keep going. You can thank us later. 😉

1 – Am I aware of the professional ambitions of my tech team?

Make sure you ask your employees about their professional goals, and what skills they are trying to develop in their free time.

Amazing things can happen when companies allow their employees to take time for the things they care about – words of Atlassian, who ran an experiment of allowing their developers to invest 20% of their time (a full day per week!) working on their own individual projects. The results were so good that this practice became part of the organization’s culture.

2 – Is my tech team happy with their current level of autonomy?

Autonomy at work means that employees can shape their own work environment and decide how
they get the job done to some degree.

Several studies, such as this one by the University of Birmingham, have already shown that autonomy is linked with greater job satisfaction and lower job turnover.

But autonomy also means increasing company profit. According to a study made by Vodafone, 58% of companies in the US have seen their profits increase since the implementation of flexible work schedules, 83% say there was an increase in productivity and, get this one CIA, 58% respondents said they believe it increased the company’s reputation!

3 – …or do they need more support?

Giving autonomy doesn’t mean you should totally ignore your tech team. Or not providing them feedback.

Constructive feedback is essential – that’s how people learn!

It should reflect on the employee’s work and both the failures and the successes are supposed to be discussed. Focus on the future and try to build a plan out of your employee’s mistakes so you can both improve – and don’t forget that if your employee failed, you probably also failed as a leader.

4 – Am I providing enough learning opportunities?

Are you familiar with the concept of flow? It is a state in which a person is fully immersed in an
activity which is challenging enough but not to the point of causing anxiety.

Providing challenges to your IT team which are not too easy and not too hard will allow them to stretch to their limits in order to overcome it… and reach a very satisfying experience of self-accomplishment afterwards.

5 – Is my tech team feeling rewarded for their efforts?

We’re not necessarily talking about money here.

Money is, of course, very important. But it’s not the only important motivator. A good salary will allow your IT team to forget about the money – they’re already happy with that part – and so they can focus on the intrinsic rewards of doing a good job: are they proud of their work? Is their work contributing to something bigger? Is their work producing an impact on someone’s life?

As a CTO it’s your job to make sure your team knows the value of their efforts. Make sure they know how important their contribution to the end product is. That little feature on the check-out your tech team has been working on for weeks? Helped clients paying in your app with more confidence. And increased sales by 15%.

Yes, a bonus at the end of the quarter feels good, but on the day to day life? A “Good job! Thank you for your efforts!” and a comment that shows you actually spent time analysing what your team produced, works wonders.

Final thoughts

If you want to shortcut our list of retention strategies – because you’re so busy building your business and you barely have time for anything else, listen to your employees, and make sure you know the answer for the 5 questions presented. This is the one item of the list you can’t miss.

Does it still feel like a lot of work? KWAN can give you a hand, hiring and help retaining your dream team.

By choosing to work with our consultants, we will make sure your tech team gets day to day support, career coaching, and mentoring – so you don’t need to worry about getting these answers right – we’ll do it for you.

Learn more about our outsourcing services and let’s start working together!