The role of a manager's expertise on the IT professional's intent to leave in South Africa
ABSTRACT The issue of employee turnover has long been a matter of interest in human resource management, industrial psychology as well as for managers and researchers. This is an even bigger issue in the Information Technology (IT) industry in South Africa due to skills scarcity. Vast amounts of literature exist on Leader-Member Exchange (LMX), job satisfaction and intent to leave. These have been studied separately or in conjunction, however there is limited research linking these elements to the manager’s expertise (both technical and general managerial skills) in the IT industry in South Africa. The study aimed to discover the factors that play a role in It professionals’ intent to leave within the IT industry. An empirical, survey based study was conducted to analyse the proposed model. The role of the manager’s expertise (independent variable) and intent to leave (outcome variable) was assessed in the IT industry from the perspective of an IT subordinate as well as assessing LMX and job satisfaction as mediating factors. Lastly, the control factors such as demographics, education, organisational tenure and alternative employment were also tested in the study. Based on literature, a structural model was developed and analysed in the context of IT professionals in South Africa. The model incorporated the core antecedents of turnover i.e. demographics, job satisfaction and intent to leave as well as constructs of the manager’s expertise (both technical and general managerial skills) and LMX. Structural equation modelling was used, which is a two-step technique that combines factor analysis and multiple regression analysis, to analyse the relationships between the measured variables and latent constructs. The empirical tests showed that the manager’s technical expertise does not play a role in an IT subordinate’s intent to leave even when mediated by LMX and job satisfaction. However, the manager’s general expertise does appear to act as an explanatory variable on intent to leave. Indirect effects were observed !i between the general expertise and intent to leave. Furthermore, an association is observed between the manager’s general expertise, through mediation effects of job satisfaction, and the subordinate’s intent to leave. The mediation effects of LMX were not supported in both cases. The study aimed to investigate the proposition that IT subordinates need managers possessing both technical and general managerial skills, however, the results showed that in today’s age the subordinate is more concerned with a manager that displays interpersonal, leadership and business functional skills instead of technology management skills. Therefore, managers need to ensure that they focus on relationship management and soft skills by engaging with each professional and understand what their needs are. The human resources (HR) teams in organisations must ensure that job specs include general managerial skills as one of the key important factors when recruiting for IT managers. Furthermore, HR needs to hold the managers accountable for employee retention.
IT, manager, technical expertise, general expertise, LMX, job satisfaction, intent to leave.