Building out a technology team is a huge undertaking.
Not only do you evaluate skills and technical knowledge, but you also have to curate a team that works well together.
Ultimately, building the right team is a function of two basic variables:
- Having complementary skill sets
- Having complementary working styles
A team of skilled individuals that can’t work together is like a can of premium gasoline without a car to put it in. Having gasoline is an essential component in moving the car but you won’t have much luck getting it from point A to B without the vehicle.
Mismatched teams not only bode poorly for each individual’s future performance, but they also heighten the risk of short tenures. Incompatible teams run the risk of huge time losses—forcing team leaders to hire the same roles over and over.
If you find yourself struggling with how to build a team that’s compatible, check out this Recruiter Cheat Sheet or continue reading for highlights.
Top reasons why you’re not building a tech team that’s compatible
1. You're missing the intricacies of each role
As tech stacks become more and more fragmented, the line between some specialized technical roles is admittedly blurry.
For example, take the difference between data analysts and data scientists. A data analyst and data scientist might both be focused on interpreting data for non-technical stakeholders. But a data analyst might focus on interpolating historic data, whereas a data scientist might focus on extrapolating predictions from historic data.
And especially at smaller companies, a data scientist might even be doing both.
Ultimately, this challenge boils down to misalignment between hiring managers and recruiters. Historically, research has shown that aligning on expectations is hiring managers’ biggest hurdle.
Even if you’re recruiting for a role you’ve seen a dozen times before, don’t assume the ask is the same. Take the time to deep dive into each individual role, and understand the finer points they need in order to be a successful team member.
2. You're not putting enough emphasis on EQ
Emotional intelligence (EQ) describes the ability to identify and manage your emotions, plus the emotions of others. It’s an important indicator of how candidates will conduct themselves on the job. It’s shown a strong correlation with job performance, leadership capabilities, and much more.
But when it comes to technical roles, most recruiters are focused more on technical skills and less on potential EQ signals—like endorsements from past coworkers.
On some level, that’s fair. After all, finding qualified candidates is the most time-consuming part of hiring for both hiring managers and recruiters.
Ultimately, the best way to emphasize EQ is to make the time for it. Establish a process to vet technical skills systematically and uniformly. The less time you spend on verifying a candidate’s stated skills, the more time you can spend getting to know them as a person.
3. You aren't evaluating candidates in the context of your current team
Let’s say you’re hiring a senior back-end developer. Some qualities you might be looking for include:
- Senior back-end developer
- Some light front-end knowledge (for context)
- Work with a team of 35 developers
- Work primarily with 2 product managers, 3 front-end developers, and 1 other back-end developer
You come across a candidate with the following qualities:
- 8 years of full-stack development experience
- Stellar results on skills tests
- Full-stack capable, but back-end focused
- A career spent working with small teams (teams of 3-5 developers total)
On paper, this candidate might look great. They have the skillset you’re looking for, and they’re seasoned enough to be independent. But we can catch a few red flags:
Full-stack capable, but back-end focused
Have they ever worked with a front-end developer, or are they used to doing the work themselves? Do they know how to communicate with them in a meaningful way to get things done? How much ownership do they expect to have over the process?
A career spent working with small teams (teams of 3-5 developers total)
Coming from a small company means the candidate is likely self-sufficient. But are they too self-sufficient? How do they work in a team? Do they openly collaborate with others, or do they tend to silo themselves off from the group? Neither option is bad––but one might be a better fit for your team than the other.
While a candidate might look solid on paper, think about how they will fit within your team and specific needs. Look for red flags that might shift the team dynamic or hinder team performance.
Finding the right match for your tech team
Finding developers with the right mix of technical skills, soft skills, and team compatibility can be a challenge. This blog post is just the abridged version.
If you want to dig deeper into building a winning team, bookmark this Recruiter Cheat Sheet. We explore what to expect from key technical roles, how to build effective teams, plus data on what languages and frameworks developers know best.