Tech Leadership: How to Build a Team and Nurture Innovation

Daniel Goldstein - CEO

The process of translating an idea into great technology that customers will repeatedly use requires the highest calibre tech, product and design expertise. Tech organisations across the world are challenged to attract (and retain) the people they need. In fact, that pool of top-quality talent is so in demand that companies are frequently competing against each other as they build out their teams.

So how do the best leaders build (and retain) a great team, and create an environment to enable them to deliver great customer-centric products?


1. Engage and collaborate with your Talent Acquisition or Recruitment Partner

The best team members are versatile and possess excellent interpersonal and creative skills to complement their technical abilities. They should fit into your company culture seamlessly and can adjust to your ways of working quickly.

Your Talent Acquisition or Recruitment Partner should be able to see deeper than your role description to get a real feel for your team and goals. They must understand the story and company vision to give a strong pitch to suitable candidates. This reduces attrition as everyone knows what to expect when they join. Effective storytelling is also a great way to engage and attract passive candidates who may be happy where they are but could be tempted by that unique opportunity that meets their personal and professional career goals.


2. Define the traits you want/need

Simply wanting “the best” technical candidates is not enough to build a great team. You need people who will compliment how your team works, contributing experience, knowledge and astute technical capability.

Build a profile of desirable traits before you do anything else. This will help you and your recruitment partner clarify exactly who you are looking for. A versatile, effective team will have people from a range of backgrounds, providing greater depth of shareable knowledge and experience for your projects.


3. Go into detail about your projects

Whether your business is built around legacy systems or cutting edge technologies, your recruitment partner (and potential candidates) need specifics. People need to know about your tech stack, the reasons behind it and what it is likely to look like in the future.

You may even want to consider replacing or introducing technologies to increase your appeal to the very best candidates. If not, be prepared to reassess your expectations to appreciate how attractive your role is likely to be to the candidates you desire.


4. Understand candidates before pitching them

You and your Talent Acquisition Partner should take a considerate approach to candidates. By taking the time to understand their passions and interests, you will be able to define cultural fit and likely interest in your organisation.

After all, there’s no point in blindly pitching an unsuitable role to a passive candidate. However, if their personal roadmap matches what you have to offer, pitch away.


How do you help these people flourish?

The end of the recruitment process is simply the start of your next challenge – keeping people engaged and nurturing innovation. After all, in our experience, roughly 80% of new tech hires start thinking about their next role soon after starting a new role - especially if the working experience doesn’t match the recruitment experience.


1. Empower your employees

In agile and collaborative environments, technical expertise will thrive when accompanied by autonomy to solve challenges collectively. Indeed, freedom to manage their own tasks within the team will drive innovation.


2. Encourage failure and accountability

In order to increase your organisation’s agility, tech teams need to be able to deliver new releases quickly. If your culture punishes failure and apportions blame at an individual level, people could be too afraid to take risks, slowing down development and hindering innovation.

Instead, team leaders need to encourage development teams to take risks – and learn from their mistakes. The whole team can pitch and develop ideas safe in the knowledge that they all share accountability for improving features and products.


3. Use daily standups to encourage innovation

Daily development meetings are a recurring opportunity to drive ideas and innovation. Use these meetings to discuss successes and failures and to encourage workers to create new solutions based on what they learned yesterday.

Many great new ideas will grow out of these collective moments of retrospect, allowing the team to reflect on what they have achieved, and what needs to happen next.


4. Focus on your team and they’ll focus on your customers

By encouraging your team to channel their efforts in line with their passions, they will enjoy their work more. They will also find it much easier to propose new innovations that benefit your products and customers alike.

Take time to nurture every team member and you will achieve much more through them. You also greatly reduce the risk of losing them to a competitor.

Finding and retaining staff is not easy – especially as your competitors are trying to attract the same people. The eight points outlined here will give your technical leaders a fighting chance of finding (and keeping) the people your business needs to innovate.

Daniel Goldstein


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