Disruptive Managers

Published on Sep 15, 2021

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Clare Coffey

Disruptive Managers

Cutting-edge tech companies have a people strategy challenge: the managers of their most disruptive tech teams know their technology—but they may be new to management. This dichotomy–one of the key findings of Building a Disruptive Workforce: Sourcing Talent in a Time of Changehas important implications for talent sourcing.

The new report from Emsi Burning Glass examines the career profiles of workers with the most disruptive tech skills,  and finds that 70% of managers in these fields came into their current roles without prior management experience. This suggests that teams working on projects vital to the future of their companies are being overseen by people learning leadership on the job.

Building a Disruptive Workforce analyzed millions of career profiles to identify how employers are finding workers with the top 10 disruptive IT skills reshaping the tech industry, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence (see the full list below).

Companies are finding managers by promoting or recruiting workers who know these fields, even if it means hiring them away from other employers. More than half (54%) of the managers identified in the study were sourced from other organizations. On average, managers of disruptive tech teams have 12 years of work experience.

This means that employers may not have to invest in training workers in tech skills, but they may well have to invest in management training in order to get the results their companies need.

There’s another dynamic at work here: the report finds that managers hired from outside an organization are more likely to stay.

In fact, managers sourced from outside of an organization are 61% more likely to stay with the organization for at least two years, compared to internal promotions. (This is in contrast to practitioners: retention is roughly the same regardless of whether they were developed internally or hired externally).

This finding suggests that companies might want to compare the cost of upskilling an existing worker to a management position versus hiring a manager from outside. The outside option is more likely to remain with the organization, which provides continuity for their staff.

For more details, download Building a Disruptive Workforce: Sourcing Talent in a Time of Change.