What happens when you’re an IT pro and your ‘outgrow’ your current job or company?
Have you ever been told ‘this is the most you can make here unless you start to manage people’? What would it look like if IT professionals had a middle ground option that didn’t force them to up and quit their current W2 job but allowed them to continue refining their craft and skills while being paid fairly at the end of the year? I call it permanent part time. It’s a career management concept for service professionals that I’ve been talking about for close to a decade and it’s especially well-suited for IT professionals.
I’ve talked with and coached dozens and perhaps hundreds of IT pros who are struggling with thoughts like this:
· I feel like I’m not being paid fairly given the unique skills that I have.
· I feel like I can do the core of my job in a fraction of the time I’m theoretically ‘at work’
· I’ve been told there isn’t an ever advancing career path for senior technologists and I have to become a manager if I want to move up the ladder.
In many cases this leads to the individual thinking ‘hmm, I guess I need to leave’. Sometimes it’s for a bigger company, until the cycle repeats itself. Often this causes individuals to experiment with becoming an independent consultant.
How does this look from the company perspective?
· Turnover among the best IT team members is often high
· ‘Gee, I’d really like to keep Billy but I can’t pay him THAT or it would mess up the pay scale for everyone else’
A tremendous amount of institutional knowledge walks out the door every time a different Billy, or Sally, leaves.
What if there was a middle ground that didn’t require the Sally to quit?
What if the 80/20 rule applies to the value that Sally adds to her company? In other words, what if most of the value the company gets comes from a relatively small amount of Sally’s time. I’m not suggesting Sally is lazy or unproductive with the rest of that time, just that perhaps other people who are paid less can do it as well or almost as well as Sally or Billy can.
In many situations I find that companies are very receptive to a model where Billy is basically working part time. Sure, he’ll get paid less than full time. But often compensation for 30-60 percent of his time can be structured in a way where it comes pretty darn close to meeting most of Billy’s basic financial needs over the course of the year. Does Billy become a beach bum for the rest of the time? Sure, if that’s what Billy wants. But often I find that this gives people ‘white space’ in their lives and professional careers to do ‘other stuff’. Sometimes this might include starting a consulting practice which allows them to be paid handsomely especially when counting their permanent full time compensation. Sometimes it might include starting on a new career or school. Sometimes it might be volunteer work. The point is that there are options. I’m not sure why this concept hasn’t caught on more in corporate IT environments. Personally I think it makes a lot of sense and can a win-win for the company and the individual.
What do you think?