At the same time, employers need to balance the drive for productivity with workplace flexibility, which Shorr likens to walking a tight rope. “We maintain that balance through daily all-staff check-in meetings, consistent monitoring, and accountability on key metrics such as utilization for the service team and lead tracking for the sales and marketing team,” she says.
Good tech management practices go hand in hand with smart policies for recruitment and hiring. Not all MSPs get it right, however.
For instance, some smaller MSPs are hesitant to hire additional staff when needs arise because they fear an economic slowdown. But Cava cautions against running technicians on overdrive indefinitely, which can drive employees out. “I try to encourage them to make decisions based on optimism, not fear. Most MSPs thrived through COVID, and chances are most will be fine even through a potential recession.”
Cava believes MSPs need a complete mind shift when hiring technical staff. “Most are used to taking what I call the mercenary approach. They wait until there is an acute need for someone with a specific skillset, and then they go out to the open market to try and hire someone with the specific experience and qualifications they are looking for.”
The more advanced the skillset you need, the harder it is to find a qualified candidate. And if you succeed in finding that perfect candidate, Cava says, you will pay top dollar. Putting more effort into nurturing and promoting people from within is a better approach, he argues. “Every growing MSP needs to make a conscious decision to become a talent factory.”
Shorr agrees. “Be open to candidates who might not have the technical skills right away. If you see that the candidate is a good cultural fit, communicates well, and has a good technical base, then be open to hiring that person,” she says.
It also pays to keep an eye on the talent pool, Shorr adds. As an MSP, you should always be hiring. “Don’t just wait until you have a need,” she says. “We need to be ready to interview and qualify any candidate [who] hits our inbox or is recommended to us.”
More than Money
Once a candidate becomes an employee, it’s not uncommon to lose them to a competitor offering a higher salary. There are lessons to be learned from this, but not everyone does.
After losing an engineer to higher pay, for example, some MSPs try to recruit a replacement at the same salary they paid the departing employee, says Thordarson. Instead of paying competitive wages, they compromise on talent, he says.
At Alvaka, to match the higher salaries of newly hired engineers, existing staff in comparable roles receive a compensation boost. “I don’t want the message sent out to everyone that the only way to get a raise at Alvaka is to go work somewhere else,” says Thordarson.