Building A Great Tech Team

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Henry Ford

Recruiting the right people is not an easy task. Top technical talent essentially has their pick. Companies try to bring in good people but, a few duds will sneak in. Hiring a new person can be tough on so many levels. We can ask them behavioral questions. Grill them over particular technologies. Still, we can end up with the wrong person. Part of the issue is we get in a hurry to bring new people in. To have the right person we need to slow down and take our time. “But the good people will be gone!” That may be but, hiring the wrong person can be very expensive. It can also ruin a good team.

Culture Fit

A truly great team is not a group of rock stars. A great team knows how to work together and play their respective roles. Recently in “March Madness” or the Men’s NCAA Basketball tournament, there was a Cinderella team that made it to the Final Four. Loyola University of Chicago‘s team beat many higher ranked teams to get to the Final Four. These players were not all top recruits but, they played well together.

Similar things happen with great tech teams. When you have a good culture and talented people who want to work together it raises the bar. Each member helps push the other team members. They learn from each other and respect each others opinion. Organizations that establish the culture and know what they are looking for can find the right pieces. Organizations that hire flashy candidates or too quickly can wind up with some poor fits.

One bad teammate can sour a team quickly. I worked with Cindy (not her real name) for a short while. On her first day, I went to lunch with her and she complained about a few things. I have to admit that really raised a flag for me. On your first day, you think it would be all positive. Cindy was hard on her teammates and customers. After a short stay, she was let go. Talent is nice but, you don’t want to hire talented-jerks!

Holding Out

We can get in a hurry. “We need someone yesterday!” At times maybe you have even thought, “someone is better than no one.” As I spoke about Cindy before remember one bad hire can have a net negative impact. Working with developers for many years one bad one can create a mess in a hurry. It is best to wait and hold out for the right person.

Dave Ramsey and his organization are notoriously slow in hiring. On their podcast, EntreLeadership they detail the numerous rounds of interviews they send people through. Only if you really want to work for him will you stick it out. I would recommend your organization create a process and fine tune it. If you find a crazy one gets through, it is time to change the process.
Holding out for the right talent

Seed, Feed, and Weed

So you have done all of the previous steps. Now you’re done, right? Wrong! Once you have your great team you still have some work to do. Seed. You need to constantly be on the look for new people. You might need to grow your team or someone may leave. Feed. Develop the people you have. Get them the coaching and training they need. Perhaps one of them will replace you someday. Weed. People can fool you in the hiring process. Or some people will change. They can become negative or no longer be a good fit. Move them out with care.

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