Winning the Race: Build the World’s Best Engineering Team

engineering team

In the increasingly competitive tech landscape, building a world-class engineering team is critical. Your engineering team is at the forefront of product development; your organization’s success depends on them.

However, building the best engineering team isn’t a one-step process. Beyond optimizing talent acquisition, organizations also need to cultivate a company culture that breeds leaders and innovators.

Building the best engineering team isn’t easy, but if you intend to win the race, let’s see what effective measures you can leverage.

Cultivate the right company culture

A proactive work culture encourages employees to mitigate potential problems before they evolve into more pressing issues. Empower your team members to take the lead and resolve problems.

Healthy work culture also fosters innovation by encouraging creativity and transparent communication, creating an environment of continuous improvement. But how can you build the ‘right’ culture? As your company grows, it may seem even more challenging to encourage a progressive culture at scale. 

Fortunately, company culture follows the trickle-down effect, which means you can lead by example. In other words, CEOs can foster a positive work environment by inspiring managers and team leaders to create a progressive, learning work culture in their teams.  

Here are a few ways through which you can encourage a proactive and healthy work culture in your engineering team:

Display of mutual respect: Respecting employees creates a positive working atmosphere where team members are comfortable expressing different viewpoints and perspectives, and bringing problems forward. You can show employees respect by valuing their opinions and input, encouraging feedback, and taking their concerns seriously. 

Positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is correlated with improved productivity, efficiency, and enthusiasm. It also increases employee retention and loyalty. In an engineering team, leaders can encourage continuous growth by rewarding employees for acquiring new skills, resolving project problems, or taking on more responsibility.     

Open-door policy: Your engineer teams take care of the groundwork and are actively engaged with product development. This makes their opinions especially vital. Thus, an open-door policy helps managers and leaders benefit from their teams’ expertise and gather meaningful feedback and insights.  

Balance engineering team sizes and optimize collaboration

A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that collaboration might suffer in groups comprising of over 20 members. In larger units, development times slow down, and feedback loops become longer. So, to avoid stagnation, employers deploy multiple smaller teams to perform specific project-orientated tasks more effectively.  

There are different perspectives about the ‘ideal’ team size – some believe it’s 5, while others lean towards a greater number. An effective way to identify the right size for your engineering teams is through experimentation – launch different, reasonably-sized groups, and monitor their performance over time.

Balancing team sizes is important, but there are more factors to consider when optimizing collaboration. For example, did you know IBM’s engineering teams use Slack throughout the development lifecycle? This includes processes from development and review to deployment.

Leveraging communication channels is crucial to streamline your engineering team’s collaboration, optimize development, and accelerate decision-making. In the current professional climate, many tech organizations are leaning towards remote-first, making collaboration tools like Slack more vital. 

Encourage leadership values

To understand why instilling leadership values is critical, consider an engineering team with just one leader. This leader is tasked with the major responsibilities, decision-making, and overseeing the entire project. 

Thus, when problems surface, employees have to approach the leader for solutions. Similarly, team members gravitate around the leader – they rely on the head for instructions, guidance, and feedback. As a result, the feedback loop is longer – problems are addressed more slowly, and the leader’s mistakes affect the entire project.

Now, consider a team where every member is instilled with leadership qualities. 

As fires surface, members independently move to put them out. As problems arise, employees come forward with their own ideas and solutions. Additionally, each team member monitors their own productivity and progress.

The result? This engineering team is more productive, efficient, product-orientated, and delivers better outcomes across the board. If these benefits appeal to you, here are some ways organizations encourage leadership qualities in their teams:

  • They create leadership opportunities. Organizations that want employees to take charge, develop ways for team members to do so. It seems simple enough, but many companies neglect this practice. If there’s no room for your team members to grow, then well, they won’t. 
  • They lead by example. Show your team members the positive leadership values that you aspire to instill. Get involved with their work, provide them with feedback, listen to their concerns and questions, and help them develop professionally. Instilling a helpful, learning culture encourages team members to help each other, too.
  • They give team members more responsibility. If you think an employee might have the potential to lead, consider making them the head of an engineering project. You can mentor and guide them, but putting them at the helm helps identify their capabilities and observe how they manage the responsibility. 

Provide development opportunities

As per a survey, employees are  15% more engaged in organizations that provide development opportunities, on average. Additionally, the provision of these opportunities has also been correlated with increased employee retention.

So, providing development opportunities can help retain employees and equip them to contribute more value to your organization.

Upskilling

Upskilling training initiatives help employees gain new skills and qualify for more advanced roles, increasing retention and morale and attracting new talent. Additionally, upskilling employees also helps your organization. You can mitigate recruitment costs and employee turnover by training your own team members to eventually fill more specialized roles.   

Additionally, upskilling your engineering team improves productivity and development by ensuring employees are highly qualified and equipped with relevant skills. 

Mentoring 

A culture of mentorship encourages senior engineers and developers to prepare junior employees for advanced positions.  You can mentor more senior employees to prepare them for leadership roles, and host bi-weekly or monthly 1:1 sessions with team members to discuss their professional goals.

Leverage remote-first and hybrid work models

The global pandemic switched many business operations online, encouraging organizations to realize the benefits of remote and hybrid models. Remote work has been related to increased productivity, better work-life balance, and greater employee satisfaction. 

Now, even as the world recovers from the pandemic, leveraging remote and, hybrid formats still offers several advantages, including:

1) Better recruiting opportunities 

Remote work options expand your talent pool by overcoming geographical constraints, reaching more qualified candidates. Additionally, talented engineers in your vicinity may also prefer remote or hybrid formats, as more employees prioritize these options

2) No commute

The commute to work takes up team member time and invites travel costs, which can be causes of stress. With remote work options, employees don’t need to make long commutes to start their working day. 

3) Lower company costs

Remote options don’t just save employees money – letting employees go digital can also reduce your operational expenses.

There are many costs involved in maintaining an office space, and as your company grows, they only increase. A remote work model helps cut expenses by reducing overhead and travel costs, lowering employee per-diems, and reducing attrition rates.

Prioritize continuous improvement as you scale

As your organization grows, operations scale too, and mistakes are potentially more costly. To stay updated with industry trends and ensure your engineering team is the best in the industry, cultivating a culture of continuous improvement is vital. 

Here are a few ways to stay progressive as your organization grows. 

Track metrics 

When targeting continual growth, it’s crucial to prioritize metrics and goals. In other words, have clear objectives for what you need from your engineering team and outline measurable milestones. Without clearly defined metrics, organizations cannot reliably track their team’s progress and success.

Encourage self-improvement

To achieve an environment of continuous improvement, employees need to grow professionally on their own time too. Create an environment where your team members can voluntarily join workshops to hone their skills or read up on new technologies, even if the new skills can’t be fully utilized yet. Equip them to assume future, more specialized positions. 

Appoint individual responsibility: 

The disadvantages of micromanagement are well known now; sitting on employees’ heads can kill productivity, increase turnover, and stifle innovation.  Steve Job’s said it better than we could:

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

The takeaway is clear – empower your employees to be responsible and work independently. Of course, it’s important to provide mentoring and guidance when necessary, but avoid micromanaging and disrupting their workflow.

One way to encourage individual responsibility is to have employees set KPIs for themselves, and measure their own performance. By empowering individuals to manage their own workflow, organizations encourage autonomy and independent work ethic. 

Formalize knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing encourages collaborative efforts, facilitates an integrated workflow, and helps motivate employees. For example, you could host a monthly knowledge-sharing session where team members discuss their progress, motivating fellow employees to keep up productivity. Additionally, team members can take advice from more experienced employees and have their questions cleared up. m.

Keep your engineering team product-orientated.

Think of your engineering team as a powerful machine. It’s important to keep it well-oiled to optimize performance, but getting the desired output is what matters the most. In other words, product orientation is critical.

Thus, prioritizing workflow optimization is vital when building a world-class engineering team, but perfecting product development is even more crucial. Organizations with the best engineering teams focus on optimizing development and the product experience.   

Here’s what it takes to build the world’s best product-oriented engineering team:

Let your company culture take effect

Remember those best practices we discussed for optimizing your organizational work culture? Well, the culture you foster dramatically influences your team’s development efficiency.

If your team members communicate well, collaborate seamlessly, hold themselves accountable, and monitor their own productivity, they’re already well-equipped to optimize product orientation. 

Product development requires a great deal of in-house collaboration and interaction with clients. To achieve the best results, you need the best team, with the best work ethic. 

Don’t lose focus 

In engineering teams, each member needs to know their exact tasks. Designers should focus on discovering solutions, managers should oversee collaboration and optimize workflow, and engineers should execute solutions and develop the finished products.   

To get the best results, it’s crucial to integrate your team’s workflow and keep all employees involved at each stage. Otherwise, miscommunication or lack of clarity can lead to problems in development. For example, if a designer creates a high-fidelity mock-up that doesn’t consider engineering limitations, your engineers may struggle in development.  

Prioritize optimization and iterations

Just like a novel’s first draft isn’t publish-ready, your engineering team won’t always get the product right the first time. The first solution might be too design-orientated, or your customers may not be satisfied with it.

That’s alright – and to be expected, even. Iterations are a natural stage of product development; what counts is how your engineering team approaches it. A motivated, product-orientated will take customer feedback and strive to perfect the product and its features. 

The first draft might not be perfect, but if you build a world-class engineering team, the final deliverable will be. 

Maintain close communication with your customers 

Generally, organizations assign a designated coordinator to manage communication with clients. While this is highly beneficial, there are times when direct correspondence between engineers and customers is essential. 

Since engineers are responsible for delivering finished products, they must understand clients’ precise needs. Sometimes, this requires direct communication. 

If you’ve built a solid engineering team, encouraging team members to correspond with clients directly offers robust potential. The best engineers have the necessary communication and technical skills to understand the client’s needs and translate them to the product’s development.

Motivate your team with rewards for measurable outcomes

While getting the finished product ready is a good milestone, it’s not the most important achievement in product development. The important milestones come next. 

Engineering teams create products that are used to solve problems, generate profit, and meet client expectations. After rolling out the product, organizations monitor their performance and effectiveness. How the finished product performs in the market is what truly counts.

So, when building a product-orientated team, it’s important to reward employees for measurable milestones, like reaching profit or KPI goals. Offering rewards helps keep your team motivated, makes them feel valued, and encourages them to focus on designing products that meet customer expectations. 

Secure the best hires by optimizing your recruitment process

Of course, you can’t build the best engineering team without a solid foundation, which means hiring the right people is vital. To secure the best talent, it’s important to optimize your recruitment funnel. Otherwise, organizations risk missing out on top talent, or losing them to the competition. 

Here are some ways to optimize your recruitment process.

Define your candidate profile

 Before you set out to hire good engineers, it’s crucial to know what your ideal candidate looks like. What skills should they possess? What should their work ethic be? Should they have leadership qualities? 

Understanding your candidate profile helps organizations design relevant job descriptions and assessments to streamline talent acquisition. Without having a clear picture of your desired candidate, you risk recruiting the wrong talent or failing to attract the right applicants altogether. 

To understand your candidate profile, it’s helpful to consult team members and determine the role’s requirements. You can then decide which skills and qualities to prioritize in the vetting process. 

Conduct phone interviews 

Phone interviews are a solid, early-stage screening process for creating a shortlist. You can leverage phone sessions to verify candidates’ information, assess conceptual knowledge, and even gauge their practical understanding. These interviews help organizations save more robust assessment methods for the most qualified candidates. 

Balance efficiency with thoroughness

In an ideal world, recruitment processes would be as comprehensive as fathomable. But, unfortunately, lengthy, extensive hiring processes neglect the candidate’s experience. 

Multi-stage recruitment processes help employers accurately determine candidates’ knowledge, practical and communication skills, and more. However, a vetting process that’s too extensive may scare candidates off, and they may accept offers from your competition instead.

So, to secure the best talent, organizations need to identify the sweet spot between thoroughness and efficiency. Your optimized recruitment funnel should identify the best talent, and move them along the hiring process quickly enough to secure the hire. 

Hire the best engineers with WeCP

To build the best engineering team, organizations have to take many proactive steps, including streamlining collaboration, cultivating the right work culture, encouraging product orientation, and more.

But to build the best team, the most critical step is to hire the right talent. That’s where WeCP (We Create Problems) – an all-in-one tech recruitment platform – can help you out. And here’s how.

Through our complete repository of questions

WeCP helps organizations secure the best tech talent by providing them with the necessary tools to optimize acquisition. Our platform contains an extensive library of over 0.2 million questions for designing custom skills tests, to vet candidates for their practical capabilities.

We help you hire faster, and better

WeCP facilitates bulk testing, cutting down your organization’s time and cost to hire drastically. Employers can invite thousands of applicants to sit the test simultaneously, and each candidate is assessed across 12+ performance metrics.

WeCP has a proven track record of results

Our platform has helped leading organizations reduce their time to hire by as much as 90%, and significantly reduce their cost per hire. We’re trusted by leading Fortune 100 companies for a reason.

So, schedule a demo with us to start building your world-class engineering team.

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