“We are only scratching the surface. There are so many diamonds in the rough today and you don’t have to be a leader to climb the ladder,” a chain manager said during a panel at WOTC East 2022 this week.
The company people want
The tech industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of IT skills and talent, and it’s not playing favorites. Almost every company, from the largest IT vendors to the smallest solution providers, struggles to find and retain top talent.
At The Channel Company’s Woman of the Channel East 2022 conference this week, Aletha Noonan, senior vice president of product and partner management at solutions provider CDW, led a discussion on creating a culture engagement and talent retention strategies with two leaders from CDW’s partner ecosystem. Shannon Sbar, Vice President of Channels for APC by Schneider Electric and Rachel Barger, Senior Vice President, Sales Americas for Cisco, shared stories of their own leadership journeys and the lessons they learned along the way – like how it’s better to be respected than feared — when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
And it’s not just a role that leaders and senior management can play. The channel’s leadership panel discussed the top things candidates are looking for in their next ventures and how everyone, at every stage of their career, can “pull” other women up the ladder and help transform their own company into a “talent magnet” thanks to their strong cultures centered on empathy and fairness.
Here’s what the channel executives had to say.
On own funds
There is a ‘war’ for top talent and increasingly people are looking for purpose when looking for a new job. It’s something managers need to keep in mind when competing to build the best teams, Barger said.
“How does management kiss you? How do they support your learning goals, your creativity goals? Creating frictionless pathways? Empathize, and also balance for well-being [when] we practically live and work in our offices and in our own homes? ” she asked.
Barger joined Cisco in October 2020 and did not meet his team in person for the first year. For her, it was about making everyone on her team feel like they had room to contribute and collaborate, even if they were working remotely like her.
“How do you make sure people at home have the same fairness of opportunity to make points and chat and how do we make sure you can have those random side conversations that we used to have in the office and encouraging people to turn on their videos to see their facial expressions to see what makes their eyes shine,” she said. “All of these things together we can strengthen through technology.”
On sustainability and purpose
For APC by Schneider, sustainability is an integral part of the business purpose. It’s also an increasingly important factor for many job seekers, Sbar said.
“I’m lucky to be with a company that worked on this before it was never cool to be sustainable,” she said. “It’s very different from when I started looking for work. I’m saying that back then, people looking for green were looking for silver. And now it’s a very different green that people are interested in and I think it’s really amazing. It’s good to be with the company that cares.
Earning and leaning on empathy
If the last three years have taught the industry anything, it’s that leaders need to care and think about things that weren’t a priority before. Empathy and “supporting each other” are key, as are women helping women by encouraging them when they see something in another person to stick with it, Barger said.
“There is probably no leadership characteristic more important than empathy, especially since we all go through transformations in our own business,” she said.
A recent Cisco study found that employees who had their manager frequently asked, “How are you and is there anything I could do to help you?” had 21% less attrition, Barger added.
“All of us leaders want real feedback. Well, if your employee base is confident enough to give you feedback, you can show them that, “I care. I want your comments. I want to understand better. And on the other hand, it’s really hard for teams to trust and listen to a leader’s strategy if they think the leader doesn’t understand or has been out of place for them,” he said. she declared.
Earning Respect Without Being “Scary”
Leaders are often wrong, Sbar said. She described a time when she felt she had to hide parts of her personality and keep her guard up in order to be respected by her colleagues and direct reports.
“About ten years ago, my right arm said to me, ‘My team and the rest of the channel are afraid of you. But you’re smart and really funny and I love hanging out with you. I wish they could see that side of you.
She recalled: “Oh my god, I spent my whole career trying to be a badass and trying to make sure I didn’t look weak and could be at the table. , that I didn’t have any vulnerabilities. I worked so hard on it that I think I got a little lost and kind of lost myself and what kind of leader I wanted to be,” she said. .
For Sbar, she started to listen more and talk about others, like her direct reports, and it changed her leadership style.
“If he didn’t say anything, I might not have noticed. But you don’t want to be feared, you want to be respected. And that’s a very big difference,” she said.
By bringing someone else to the table
Barger worked in Asia for a while where there were amazing female leaders and distributors. She remembers working with a woman in Indonesia who was a “rock star” and the breadwinner of her family.
“She just needed someone to see her and figure out who she was, and I think that’s all our job. To find those people and get them up the ladder,” she said, noting that she, too, had been lifted up the ladder by two different sponsors who saw something in her.
“We are only scratching the surface. There are so many diamonds in the rough today and you don’t have to be a leader to move someone up the ladder,” she added.
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