The key to motivating and retaining your technical specialists

  • Technical specialists often labelled as low potential and overlooked if they don’t aspire to people leadership. 
  • As a result, experts are not given the same level of appraisals, career ladders, development, mentoring or capability frameworks as upcoming people leaders. 
  • This article outlines changes that should be implemented concerning how experts are hired, motivated, and managed. 

The key to motivating and retaining your technical specialists

Most organisations rely on technical specialists to create new products, drive innovation and reduce costs. Because they are so critical, and their skills so rare, technical specialists are hard to find, very expensive to hire and even harder to retain. But do organisations always fall into the same traps, in that they aren’t ready to support experts fully?  

In most organisations, if you lead teams well, you’re a high performer. But specialists don’t want to lead people and teams. Instead, they want to drive ideas, innovation and projects. 

As a result, HR teams largely assume experts to be ‘low potential’ because they don’t want to be people leaders, despite experts keeping the lights on in critical services, and often contributing more directly to the bottom line than middle managers. 

Little effort is made to develop this surprisingly high-performing group of ‘low potential’ staff. Experts are not given the same level of appraisals, career ladders, development, mentoring or capability frameworks as upcoming people leaders are given to develop their commercial and relationship skills. 

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