You’re looking to hire a senior developer (or, maybe more likely, a whole team of developers) for your fast-growing tech company. Fantastic — that’s why you chose VanHack. But maybe you run a startup or are just getting to a size where it seems hard to manage all of your tech talent. This is not an uncommon problem.
As a virtual CTO and technology advisor for multiple fast growing tech companies over many years, I’ve picked up some useful habits and processes for managing a tech team as it grows. Here are some ideas for getting the most out of your tech team.
1. Reliability and predictability are more important than productivity
Productivity is something that almost comes naturally. As a developer gets into a zone, they get faster. As they get in tune with your processes, efficiency goes up. Perfect.
I’ve learned to value reliability in my tech team. When they say, “We’re going to be finished” with a sprint or task, I expect it to be finished and of acceptable quality. You don’t always have visibility into why someone works slowly or quickly—but, you always can measure adherence to deadlines and quality of the outcome.
2. Allow for experimentation and independence
Allocate time for the team to try things out, experiment, learn and improve. Leave the door open for trial and error. Allow room for mistakes too — not every experiment will end in success, but it’s hard to expect any change if you don’t allow your team to trial new systems.
Ultimately, the best of the team will take ownership of the thing you’re trying to do. Let the team turn the vision into reality.
3. When hiring remotely, recreate the office atmosphere
We’ve come a long way since COVID turned so many companies into remote spaces. By the way, I’ve seen that VanHack is actually a great example of a fast-growing company that operates remotely. How do companies like this manage to stay productive?
Day-to-day, have collaboration tools which allow easy, seamless interaction beyond just typing text (e.g. video, audio). Have a place that fills the role of the traditional watercooler, where people can chat and share about non-business related topics. Finally, encourage the team and especially the leaders to show appreciation for when people achieve something great.
4. Communicate clearly to remove the potential for misunderstandings
I can’t stress enough how important clear and consistent communication is. Good communication removes ambiguity and provides a clear definition for the team. If you learn how to communicate and create structure in communication, you are golden.
I have days where I start work at 5:30am. I have meetings, job interviews, etc. – but I always make sure that everyone knows what needs to happen. There’s no magic software that will make miracles for you.
5. Better planning helps reduce burnout for the whole team
This is one task that sets apart real leaders and those who just got promoted for doing tasks well. A tech leader needs to set realistic timelines and deadlines. The more of the repetitive tasks you can automate to allow your team to spend time on the creative ones, the better.
What’s the best way forward for your tech team?
Building synergy in a growing tech team (especially remotely) can be a process of trial and error.
Establishing good habits and processes within the team is Step 1, but be sure to tailor them to the personalities and team dynamic you’ve got on hand.
Vaclav Vincalek is a tech entrepreneur, virtual CTO at 555vCTO, and technology advisor for startups and enterprise, helping companies strategize, grow and innovate.