Growing your team organically

Lambda Days 2016 is just around a corner, what reminds me a conversation I had a year ago (at Lambda Days 2015) with guys from Klarna. We were discussing their business & what's under its hood (Erlang is ;D). It was one of the periods of my heavy recruitment, so I couldn't resist & I've asked them straight - where do they get these Erlangers from, because I'm struggling with finding decent .NETters & these are far easier to find, I believe. Their answer was brief - we don't recruit them, we raise them (educate/teach, you've got the idea).

How odd & unusual, isn't it? Today, when:

  • everyone wants to grow so fast (so no-one has time for "cultivation")
  • companies whose core business isn't actually software development are hiring whole regiments of devs (and are quite fine with outbidding "the littlers")
  • budgets & projects come & go (that's why no-one wants to be left with "overhead" programmers, so short-term contractors are preferred)

Needless to say, I totally agree with Klarna on that ...

Companies that thoughtlessly fall under the bullet-points from the list above & follow the line of least resistance by semi-random ad-based or social media-based recruitment ...

... tend to forget that:

  1. even if you assembly the squad of human beings who you've lured with empty promises & showers of coins, they don't become team immediately - it requires time, sometimes adjustments, there can be a bit of pain involved (do you remember the team building stages: forming-storming-norming-performing?) - it can't happen overnight or in two weeks

  2. people who know (feel) they are meant to fill the open slots only for the given period of time may be 100% professional, but in the end the sense of temporariness WILL impact their work - they will aim (& optimize) for short-term goals, they won't consider themselves fully-fledged team members, but rather mercenaries meant to do particular job & depart in the direction of the setting sun soon after ... It's really hard for emotional commitment if you know that in 3 months time you'll be free to not give a damn f... about all this shit anymore

  3. the more experienced job candidate is, the harder it is to assess her/him properly; his spectrum of abilities / skills / experience spreads wider, maybe even making it easier to classify her/him in terms of theoretical knowledge, but such advantages may effectively hide (cover up) even serious flaws in cooperation, communication or ability to maintain strong professional relationships; let's make it clear -> the amount of experience may increase knowledge, but it's far less likely to improve soft skills & defects of character / personality

  4. by getting an experienced hire you accept someone as (s)he is - the older people are the less prone to "forming/shaping" efforts they become; you have to be really confident about your selection process to be sure that you're assembling a proper squad of individualities that will fit together well (btw. hopefully you already understand, that having one "persona" template & hiring everyone that fits this formula is stupid, aren't you?)

  5. by raising & teaching a fresh person with potential ("hire for potential, not for skills" - do you remember that?) you have an unique opportunity to actually pass the most valuable learnings of yours & shape new, better generation of your-alikes :) - people you'd like to work with, people who can learn from your past mistakes

There's nothing bad in getting some experienced hires, quite the contrary - varying perspectives, experience earned in different battlefields - fresh breadth of air may do a lot of good if applied correctly. But this should NOT be the usual & preferred way to get people on-board in a proper, healthy, stable environment based on sound principles:

  • what kind of company's culture is built that way?
  • where is the identity of the organization to sprout from?

Pic: © singkham - Fotolia.com