In any environment, many attributes exist not just to create a talented team, but to ensure they work well together. Bringing together a wide variety of personalities and work styles requires masterful, creative management skills.
For teams that wear many hats — from designing software that propels the business forward to supporting other departments by acting as a rescue operation — building a tech team that is cohesive is important. Because of the wide variety of issues your tech team must handle, spending quality time and effort building a tech team will pay dividends in the future.
So, how can you begin building a tech team? Here are five proven strategies to achieve the optimal team environment.
Team building doesn’t just happen. It requires careful planning. Consider your business model and what critical functions you need your tech team to serve. Different businesses will have different priorities. What are yours?
If you need your tech team to drive efficiency for your business, the plan will be very different when compared with a team whose primary purpose is to collect, process, and secure big data. Be sure you have the right people to fit these needs. If not, reassess and make some changes. And if you are hiring additional resources, allow the tech lead to make the hiring decision or have some input during the interview process.
Does the tech lead have experience working with a tech team? Does that person know how to deal with budgets and other corporate leaders? The right person can make all the difference for your team by turning leaders throughout the company into tech champions. If the answer is no – even if the tech lead is you – consider training options or restructure the organizational landscape.
Warren Buffet spent years trying to convince his longtime friend Charlie Munger to work with him as his business partner. It took a lot of effort, but Buffet never gave up. Once Munger said yes, they began what would become a very successful partnership: Munger became the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, a massive holding company that owns many well-known brands. Buffet’s pursuit of Munger demonstrates how vital the right people are to success.
You need people with:
Technical expertise. You always need to seek out the experts. They must know security, how to oversee software and hardware needs, and have the ability to manage projects to keep things running smoothly.
Innovative thinking. Building a tech team that will stand the test of time requires people who think two steps ahead. These innovative thinkers won’t rest until they find the right solution, and that means forward progress for your business.
Courage. You can only keep up with innovation if your team is willing to take risks (carefully calculated, of course). Courage is a must when it comes to proposing and testing ideas. During any interview, a good test of courage is to talk about how the candidate treats failure. People who aren’t afraid to fail have experience with uncertainty and are more likely to have the resilience to stick it out in the difficult times.
Emotional intelligence. Too often tech skills overshadow everything else. Overlooking emotional intelligence is a mistake — a big mistake. Not only is it an essential quality for a team player, but emotional intelligence makes all the difference when working with others. People who possess self-awareness and reflect upon themselves and their actions bring immeasurable value to the table.
To diversify your resources in a different way, also consider a combination of internal and external resources, depending on the size of your business. When needs arise that you rarely address, consider the help of external support. Resources exist that can provide training, advice from certified experts, or simply a forum to exchange ideas.
You may or may not have heard of the acronym “BHAG”: the Big Hairy Audacious Goal. In 1960, Nike’s BHAG was to “Crush Adidas.” So, what’s your BHAG?
Make it big. Having a vision this grand provides the tech team with a guiding light that maintains focus on the common goal toward which everyone is working. That focus can sustain employees through times of crisis.
If your team is invested in your vision, they’ll have an easier time staying motivated — and that’s where the magic happens. Star performers who knock it out of the park will begin to emerge.
A BHAG-like vision is also important as you work to attract the best talent. Bear this in mind when you are looking at your hiring options. The best candidates for building a tech team know who they are and will be looking for more than just a job.
Continuous learning is critical for technology teams. The landscape is constantly changing, and your team must upgrade their technical knowledge with education that will provide the flexibility to adapt.
Technical work is complex and requires focus. Nothing destroys focus and deep thinking like frequent interruptions. Appreciate the complexity of their work and provide them large periods of uninterrupted work time whenever necessary. This demonstrates respect for their contribution. Companies can set themselves apart from others by offering large blocks of focused time for their employees. This can make your company highly desirable to those high performers who seek out the most challenging problems.
Independence may seem counterintuitive when talking about building a tech team. While rapport among teammates is certainly important, the team is composed of individuals who should be focused on their particular contribution. This will result in the best output.
Take time to acknowledge each team member as an independent part of the team. Get to understand them as individuals. Find out what drives them so you can customize your motivation tactics and get the very best performance from each member of your team.
Get in the trenches with your team regularly. Go the extra mile to sit down with them, find out their concerns, and ask about their achievements. Planning small — and large — gestures of encouragement and recognition will let each team member know how valued they are.
Once you have your tech team assembled and running like a fine-tuned machine, the work is not over. Be sure team building remains high priority on your radar.
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