Taking time to understand the business, its objectives and the profiles of the personnel required will streamline the recruitment process, according to Ronald Binkofski, CEO at STX Next
Assembling a brand-new technical team presents a myriad of challenges, particularly if the team leader is also new to the company.
Managers have to contend with personality clashes, onboarding teething problems and difficulties delivering the right blend of experience, all of which can significantly hinder the performance of a team in its infancy.
However, there are steps that tech leaders can take to navigate these challenges and lay the foundations for a high-performing team.
Conducting thorough research and planning before commencing the hiring phase is often the basis for a team’s success, so those in charge should ensure they are fully prepared before making any major decisions.
For tech leaders looking to start recruiting, it’s essential that they first understand the profile of the company and the employees it requires before sitting down to interview any candidates.
According to research carried out last year, 56% of senior decision-makers admit rushing the hiring process, outlining the regularity with which employers fall into the trap of bringing staff on board without due consideration.
I spoke to Niloufar Zarin, Head of Machine Learning at Acorai, about this, and she said: “The team leader should begin by taking time to understand the company’s blueprint and size. If they have joined a startup they will likely have a smaller budget but more licence for creativity, while at a large corporation they may have more cash at their disposal but be required to adhere to established procedures. If they’re at a growth stage company they may have scaling issues to consider.
“Identifying the position of the business itself will inform choices around the size of the team needed, the salaries the organisation can accommodate and the personality types that best align with objectives.
“Having a good grasp of product strategy should also be a key consideration. Tech leaders should base the skillsets of employees on the business’ go-to-market strategy: for example if a product needs to be deployed quickly, experienced developers are essential.
“Overall, managers should have a clear picture of what the team should look like before it is assembled, and build a recruitment plan that will best support the business’ goals.”
As a leader you should know the personality types that mesh well in a technical team, and this knowledge should influence thinking on whether certain candidates are a good fit for a role.
Zarin said: “It’s all about favouring the right personality types: tech leaders should look to hire people who are optimistic, motivated and will buy into the company’s vision.
“One employee with a negative attitude can have a domino effect and lower the morale of the entire team. This often defines whether the wider team chooses to stay at the organisation for a significant period of time, outlining how recruitment can directly affect employee retention.
“The interview stage is where it’s easiest to pick out the candidates that are a good fit for the team you’re looking to build. Conducting interviews personally, in a relaxed one-to-one style, is the most effective way to gauge a candidate’s personality and pinpoint whether they will help drive the team’s success.
“Understanding the aspirations of each team member is also important in the tech industry, where managerial roles bear little resemblance to life as a developer. From an early stage, team leaders should find out whether employees have managerial aspirations or want to stay as an individual contributor and base their development on this knowledge.”
Even if a team leader has picked out the ideal candidates, things can quickly unravel at the onboarding stage. Therefore, it’s important to establish a process that works for all employees before committing to a large intake.
Zarin said: “Onboarding should be a gradual process. Start by introducing one or two people then slowly increase the size of the intake – don’t try to hire the entire team simultaneously.
“If the onboarding process is rushed it may mean there aren’t enough tasks to split between employees. Staggering the hiring of staff members gives tech leaders a chance to evaluate how much capacity the team has and whether extra bodies are required. If employees are left without work to get on with, morale will quickly drop.
“Managers should also make time to introduce new employees to fellow team members, as well as the wider organisation. This will help them settle into their role, while giving them a clearer picture of the business’ culture.”
It’s impossible to assemble a high performing technical team overnight, so it’s vital that a diligent and thorough planning phase takes place to ensure that hired employees suit the needs of the business.
The tech leaders that understand the profile of their organisation and the personality types that work best together have the best chance of assembling a successful team.