Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Kaseya’s COO Smolarski: ‘We’re Not Running Scared’

The tech company is bucking the hybrid trend and betting instead on in-office culture to help retain talent and build a pipeline of future leaders.

Joe Smolarski is well aware, as most senior leaders are by now, that the U.S. is experiencing a dramatic skills shortage and that the balance of power has shifted from employers to employees, with the latter able to command higher paychecks and more flexible hours. He has heard the dire predictions for companies—and particularly tech companies—unwilling to offer employees a hybrid solution.

But while Smolarski agrees that today’s employees are looking for more from their employers, the COO of  Miami-based IT solutions provider Kaseya doesn’t believe hybrid work is the necessary ingredient for retention—and he’s not afraid to say that the company just isn’t offering it. “Kaseya is an in-office company,” he says. “We’re super upfront about who we are and the types of people we’re looking for. And we’re not running scared like most other companies. A lot of candidates respect that and appreciate that.”

In-office work is a critical component of Kaseya’s talent strategy. Years ago, the company’s leadership realized that it would only get harder to recruit experienced, senior level staff, so they embarked on a plan to focus on hiring junior-level employees who are smart go-getters who appear to be a good fit with Kaseya’s culture, and then investing millions to ensure they are trained and learning the necessary skills to move up and, eventually, take leadership roles in the company. “There are literally hundreds of examples of individuals who have gone from intern to manager. We had somebody go from account manager to a senior vice president in four years,” says Smolarski, who estimates that around 90% of the company’s outside hires are entry level, while the same percentage of senior level positions are filled by internal promotion—even if the individual candidate isn’t quite there yet, skills-wise. “It takes a lot of convincing for the executive team to say, we need to go to the outside and hire a senior level person versus giving the opportunity to promote somebody who is here internally, who’s proven themselves, proven they’ve got Kaseya DNA.

“But employees need to see that growth opportunity. They need to know that if they put in the hard work and get the desired results, they’re going to be rewarded for it. They want investment in training to elevate their skills. They want to see a path for growth and success. So we as employers have to be in the details.”

Being detail-focused means micromanaging some aspects of talent strategy, he adds. When someone chooses to leave, for example, CEO Voccola gets a report detailing the reasons. “We scrutinize those as an executive team every single week, which you don’t see in a 5,000-person company very often—but it’s our job to address those challenges,” says Smolarski, adding that if the person left because it was a poor fit, that’s one thing. “But if they’re leaving because they didn’t see opportunity, that means that we didn’t do our job.”

The retention results speak for themselves, he adds, noting the company’s growth from 800 to nearly 5,000 in four years—three of those in a pandemic. “We’ve taken a very structured detailed approach to career development, and that’s appreciated by our Kaseyans, and in large part, is responsible for our high retention rates.”

That very intentional plan to groom leadership from the ground up would not work if everybody was dispersed and working remotely, as it would limit shadowing, mentorship and ultimately, that culture “stickiness” required for retention and loyalty. “It’s so critical that you get to learn from your peers. Younger people often learn through osmosis, from that superstar who’s sitting next to you, who has kind of solved a challenge already, and you’re able to learn from being in the environment and being exposed to the positive success that’s going on around you.”

The fact that the company isn’t wishy-washy about its plan to stay in person actually helps retention, he says. “Because they know what they’re signing up for. We don’t want to be vague because, what if we scare them away because we’re in office—we’re super upfront. They’re signing up for hard work—but they’re also signing up for unlimited opportunity.”


MORE LIKE THIS

  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events

    Roundtable

    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)

     

    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.