This is the beginning of a private newsletter series I penned for a small group of tech founders last year.
I now published the series for the benefits of the blog readers.
Each email is about 10 mins read.
You are receiving this email, because you have subscribed to “Recruit your ninja” email course.
In this email series, I will show you a set of simple strategies for finding, recruiting and retaining engineering talents, building the team you want and driving them to deliver your project successfully.
During the course, should you have any doubts, feel free to reply to the email with your questions! I will answer them as soon as I can.
I created this email course by recollecting the management lessons I learned in my career as a tech lead in the local tech space.
Guess what question people asked me more often than any others in my career?
Can you recommend a good software developer to me? I am looking for one.
(This may not be the question you want to ask now, but it is going to be a recurring question down the road anyway, so hear me out.)
As Singapore government started to push for digital transformation, many local business embarked on innovation projects despite a general lack of preparedness for such endeavor.
While top tech companies in the world are battling hard to attract talents in order to get ahead of each other, many local startups and innovation labs are taking the first step to build something.
Their management often neglect talent management in favor of other business priorities. As a result, their innovation initiatives often lose steam after an initial success.
In the first email, I would like to share 3 wisdoms of talent management.
Wisdom #1 Managing engineering project is a great balancing act
Those who write the code that powers your product are brilliant individuals who love the challenge of programming.
They have their own definition of success, some want to develop excellent technical skills for a long-term career, some are in for the paycheck, some crave the novelty and intellectual stimulation of the work.
Tech geeks are motivated and driven by different factors from what motivates and drives you.
A selling product need to have a certain degree of technical excellence. It should have a user-friendly interface, a scalable and reliable backend. It should not crack under intense load. Its code should be elegant and easy to maintain.
Last but not least, the product should create value for the users. It should bring revenue to the company. It should make all stackholders feel proud.
All three types of success are equally important.
If you manage the project without regard to the personal needs of your engineers, you will have trouble motivating and retaining them.
If you focus only on creating value and bringing in sales, and neglect the technical excellence, sooner or later, you will need to do a costly rewrite of the project.
Without organizational success, you will find that the business is not sustainable and it is hard to convince your investors to put in more capital.
And so, managing engineering project requires you to perform a balancing act, chasing for all three success simultaneously.
Wisdom #2 Birds of a feather flock together
The law of attraction – people like and are attracted to others who are similar. Consequently, people tend to hire people in their likeness.
When you conduct hiring, you let some people in and you let some people go. That is a filtering process.
Likewise, in a team, some people decide to stay on, some people decide to leave for better opportunity. That is also a filtering process.
The law of attraction dictates this filtering process for the large part. An interviewer with a big ego who allows his ego to influence his judgement during the interviews will often get engineers with big ego too.
If you always tell your engineers what to do, lacking the confidence to empower them, your team will consist of engineers who take instructions from you to perform their tasks, lacking the confidence in making the decisions for themselves.
So if you realize that your team behave in a certain way or lack the diversity to tackle a variety of challenges, reflect upon yourself or the bias in your filtering process.
Wisdom #3 Technical excellence is not above all
In football game, the club that wins the league title is not always the club with all the star players. Teamwork and good coaching play a crucial role in making a winning team.
Likewise, having the smartest people in your engineering team does not guarantee that they will deliver. In fact, I have seen the exact reverse in some cases.
So modern hiring process emphasizes a lot on cultural fitness, soft skills and attitude in addition to the traditional focus on intellect, technical skills and aptitude.
If you are hiring for an early stage startup, your first few tech hires are likely people who are versatile with technology, who can get the shit done.
Wisdom #1, #2 and #3 => recruiting and managing talents requires a systematic process with a human touch, not just doing some advertising of your job opening here and there.
In this email course, you will continue to learn the bits and pieces of a complete strategy for building a functional tech team, starting with the basics of tech recruiting in the next email.
The question to answer next:
As a hiring manager, what is your job?
Obito “the talent strategist”
P/S: I’d like to know more about you, in order to structure my content better in future to meet your needs.
What is your goal? What do you hope to gain from the course?
You may answer the question by replying to this email.
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