What’s the biggest challenge leaders face today? What single duty do most HR recruiting leaders dread? No, I’m not talking about paying taxes or having a root canal. Its hiring your future technology team leaders.
Over 80% of the leaders I work with hate, yes, they hate hiring new technology team leaders in new technology disciplines. I thought it might be helpful to share several tips that can make your hiring easier, if not a breeze. I’ve spent over 20 years recruiting technology team leaders for my clients and partner organizations.
The first tip I share with my clients is always be looking. That’s right, it’s just that simple. Don’t wait until you must hire to start looking for great technology talent. Many of the senior technology team leaders I know have files with people they have been impressed with. Both potential employers and fellow team members are in their files. One calls it their own insurance policy for a successful future. An interesting way of looking at ones’ future.
I still have mine. It’s current. It’s updated several times a month. It’s an invaluable resource to help my early stage organizations get better advisory team members. In today fast changing market you can never know enough great technology team leaders. The more you grow the more you’ll need!
Start cultivating great relationships with key technologists before you need them. You might meet them at a conference or trade show. In some cases, they’ve read a blog or article by them. Great technology leaders are great connectors and the more comfortable you get at this, the easier your job becomes.
No matter how much technology changes it will always be critical to know the best leaders in your markets. If you don’t today, it’s time to get to work building a stronger network.
The second tip is to understand what you and your organization have to offer a potential employee. I can remember meeting with family business leaders who have an incredible product or service marketing story, but they haven’t spent any time thinking what would make their business attractive to a new technology team leader. The worse part, their industry is going to be transformed by a new technology capability. Think blockchain or for my clients’ smart supply chains.
Consider taking time to develop your story with the different people on your team. Make sure they are ready to help the organization attract great people to work with. The better the people they attract the easier their job gets. Great technology team leaders improve the performance of everyone on their teams.
As founders we often miss the why of people hiring. Doesn’t everyone want to work for my business? By asking your fellow team members why they joined you, you might be surprised by what you hear. Involving your different team members will help your organization become much stronger at attracting great technology talent to your team. Most technical people prefer talking with people like themselves.
If you are always looking and we know you now will be, you must understand what employees want in an opportunity. A word of caution on sharing, don’t be so hard on yourself or your organization. I can think of one great technology entrepreneur who had over 50% turnover in his senior leadership team. When we shared it with potential executives, we had to decide how to share it with these potential team members.
Here’s what we said, if you want to work in a great company and you want to get more responsibility faster, you should consider working for us. We have a high turnover rate because we are not the right place for everyone. Our culture works for the right people. Then we would wait to get a response.
Over 15% of the technology team leaders we interviewed saw it as a challenge and went on in the interview process. In discussions with senior management, I shared that they might be better served by not hiring so quickly and in several years we reduced the turnover rate by 40%. We could not have done this without knowing what an employee is looking for in an employer.
The third tip is to know what you expect in an employee. We all work in competitive markets and know that you have to work hard to be a success. Then why do so many entrepreneurs spend little time considering what they expect out of a technology team leaders? I believe its because they don’t really understand what they should expect from their technology team leaders. Today I spend significant time helping these executives to better understand the possibilities.
Take time to write it out and share it with other people on your team. Make sure you really understand what you want. Create a shared story of what you and your team expect from technology team members. You’ll be surprised at the powerful bond it builds between the different members of your team.
Be willing to share examples of people going the extra mile. Share these during the interview process. No surprises, but this is a great way of describing what you expect from others. Don’t be timid in setting your bar high. The people who will do the best job will be the people who want to exceed your and their expectations in a role.
The fourth tip is to look for subtle clues to how they might perform on the job when interviewing. Use a multistep process and get feedback from other people before you hire. Make sure you collect feedback from the different people in your hiring process. It helps you get a better handle on how people look at hiring.
Your younger team members can bring significant experience experimenting with many different new technologies. You should have them involved in your technology team leaders hiring process. It’s also a great test to see how they handle people they may be managing. I know in several cases these younger team members have helped me avoid a bad hiring decision.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen in hiring technology team leaders is the hiring manager rushes to judgment on a person and then struggles to collect feedback and support from the people who will be most impacted by the hiring decision. If you’ve done a good job on the other pieces of the puzzle, the more successful you become at hiring great technology people.
The final tip is it is better to dodge a bullet than take one. I learned this from my work with the military. If you’re not certain, don’t hire. If you’ve followed the other tips I’ve shared, you are going to be more prepared than almost anyone out there to hire great technology team leaders. Don’t let circumstances make your decision for you. I’ve seen many bad hires made in a rush to bad judgment.
I hope this helps you be more confident in hiring your next great technology team leader. If you have any questions, please drop me a note. I’d love to hear from you.
This article originally appeared on Developing High Performing Teams when talking about selecting key people for your growing organization!