What are the 9 priceless attributes of a high performing technology team in Canberra?
Over the past twenty years of providing ICT recruitment services in Canberra I’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know some very impressive technology leaders. One common trait among the technology leaders that has most impressed me is the way they empathise with and develop the technology professionals under their care and the things they do to successfully build high performing technology teams. After observing these technology leaders over many years I’ve identified the key attributes shared by high performing technology teams in Canberra.
Leadership the team believes in
The kiss of death to a high performing technology team often occurs when its leader changes. If a high performing team is committed to its leader, they can achieve great things. I’ve seen a leadership change in a technology team and then the team quickly disintegrates. People follow inspiring individuals whom they trust. When a new leader is transitioned into a team the best technology professionals won’t automatically accept the new leader’s authority. The best technology professionals will only commit to a leader who has proven themselves to be worthy.
Be careful who you let in
I have two high performing technology teams in mind while writing this. One is in the private sector that only employs permanent team members, the other is within the public sector that mostly engages contractors. Both reject higher numbers of applicants than other technology teams I work with. Candidates that would receive offers from average technology teams get rejected in these two high performing teams. High performing teams interview many applicants and will reject most on what could be considered small things like personality differences, or slight errors in their technology understanding. Remember, it is the fish that John West rejects……
Neither of the two high performing technology teams that I work with adhere to a prepared list of formal interview questions. Nor do they have an interview panel that produces formal reports and recommendations. Instead, the leaders of these teams have informal discussions with applicants. During these discussions the leaders simply talk through the focus and goals of their teams and allow the applicants to provide input as to how they might solve certain challenges, and how they have solved similar challenges in their past environments. The leaders will always circle around to an important conversation point to give the applicant a second chance to convey the information required to successfully pass through the interview process. These interviews are conversationally based rather than enacted through a stringent recruitment process that attempts to quantify the appropriateness of an individual through metrics designed primarily for decision reporting purposes.
Technology tool selection
Both of the high performing technology teams that I work with greatly value the opinion of the technology professionals within their teams. They employ the best people and have trust in their recommendations as to which tools and methods will achieve the desired outcomes. A team can hardly expect to be high performing if the people within it are forced to work with outdated or ineffective tools and approaches. Yes, it can sometimes be difficult for large federal government technology environments to adhere to the recommendations of their technologist in regards to best practice tools and methodologies. If this is the case then an organization needs to accept average performance from their teams; the very best technology professionals will leave those environments for teams that understand and act on their professional advice.
“They will reject candidates until they find the one”
Slow to hire, fast to fire
As already mentioned, the two most high performing technology teams that I work with are extremely choosy as to who they let in. Even if they have a burning need to expand their delivery capability to meet deadlines, they’ll still wait until a high-quality technology professional is found. They won’t settle on an average new team member just to put a bum on a seat. They will reject applicants until they find the one who will complement and enhance their team’s capabilities.
Inversely, as soon as a team member proves to have a negative impact on the high performing teams they will be exited. Whether it be a personality conflict within the team that threatens morale or lower than expected technology output quality, the high performing teams will exit a low, or even average, performing individual.
A high performing team remains such only through protecting and maintaining a high performing ethos at the expense of all else.
Passion within team members is one of the key traits sought by high performing technology team leaders. The key thing they seek in new team members is a demonstrated passion for technology. This usually means people who follow their own technology interests outside of work hours. Some might simply be doing self-study after hours to keep abreast of developments within their technology niche, but generally this isn’t enough. The best technology professionals are developing projects in their own time for their own interests. It may be that they have built commercial apps that are selling online, or they’re into embedded circuit robotics programming or 3D printing in their garage. The best technologists will have many historical personal projects that they can describe with enthusiasm. These are the people sought by the highest quality technology teams.
Focus on delivery
The best technology teams that Recruitment Hive work with are always emphasizing the importance of delivering solutions for users. Delivery is the very purpose of their existence. Delivery, delivery delivery. High quality technology professionals need to know that the solutions they are working on will make a positive impact on the users that adopt them. If a team does not have faith in the successful delivery of their solution, there’s no high quality ethos, and the best technology professionals will leave.
Allow technologists access to users
Access to users and business stakeholders is not always possible, but when it is it should be encouraged. By allowing technology professionals access to the users for whom they are developing a solution assists to eliminate what Karl Marx called alienation from the product of their work. The less alienation a worker feels, the greater commitment to the task they will have. To intimately understand the purpose of one’s work will always increase productivity, not to mention break down the barriers of otherness between technologists and users which creates a more cohesive organization as a whole, not just a higher quality technology team. Oh, and the users will get what they want!
Don’t pigeon Hole
Larger technology teams in federal government tend to pigeonhole their technology professionals in very narrow niches. This limits a technology professional’s understanding of the “whole” and alienates them from the deliverable. When a team allows technologists the ability to have input across an entire solution it creates a more significant sense of ownership of that deliverable. The highest performing technology teams I work with rarely employ people that have spent most of their careers in huge technology environments that pigeon hole people. They find that such large environments create technologists that are unable to operate in a fast-past paced environment focused on delivering great solutions for users. People who have been pigeonholed in their single narrow technology niche tend to sit around unproductively waiting for someone else to click a button or solve a problem which they deem not to be their responsibility. The highest performing technology teams that Recruitment Hive work with seek people who jump in and assist in the solving of any roadblock inhibiting the delivery of the solution.