If your technology startup wants to become successful, apart from having an excellent company culture, it is necessary to cultivate a supportive and dynamic engineering team. Excellent engineering culture is beneficial as it helps you to hire the top talent, retain them after hiring and effectively use their skills to drive your business forward.
Many people have the wrong idea when they hear the word culture. They might think of amenities like game tables, intramural sports, and team meals. But authentic culture is a bit more than that. We’re talking about shared work values, goals and behaviors within a professional group. Undoubtedly, peer pressure plays a big role in shaping how people respond in a particular culture, and this can be positive or negative. If you are thinking that putting a list of principles on the wall and calling it a day, you are not likely to have much success in establishing the culture. Your engineering team’s culture requires careful attention and direction in order to flourish.
Of course, it is the team’s strategy that determines the culture, and as such, it is different for every team. But when it comes to engineering teams, some elements are common. Here are some core values you’re likely to see in highly successful teams:
1. An environment that allows for debate
Starting a tech company is no small feat. You can’t just company someone else’s idea in the highly competitive tech market and expect it to take off. Usually, you are starting off with a totally original idea that hasn’t yet been tested. There are no easy answers in this process. Of course, you’ve probably down market research and have a sense of potential customers but the course from a viable concept to a successful product will definitely have some hiccups.
That’s why you need input from as many people as possible, most importantly from your engineers. You’d be foolish to treat your engineering team as simple technicians who slap together widgets in the production process. Engineers are often highly intuitive people who can contribute ideas, big and small, at every stage of development.
Of course, you won’t be able to incorporate everyone’s ideas, which is why the process of brainstorming as a team needs to be a debate. Keep the dialogue respectful and draw out ideas from people who don’t readily share their views. These might be some of the biggest game changers in your development process.
2. Demonstrate Commitment to Strategic Decisions
By gathering more opinions from your team, you’ll be in a better position with more information to make decisions as they come up. Among all these opinions, people will disagree, and the team leader is the one who has to make the final call. This is the C-suite decision-maker who ultimately calls the shots. And the team has to respect his or her authority.
Your team leadership should definitely have the humility to listen to other opinions but they also need the confidence to stand firm once a decision has been made. If you don’t have that kind of group leader, your development process can devolve into infighting.
But making all others commit to the decision you wish to take is no simple task. A good leader will be able to achieve this as he or she first listens to each of the arguments presented and understands them clearly. Instead of making a decision and walking out of the conference room, it is vital for you to articulate the rationale and win people over to your thinking.
The team needs to understand the reason why you choose a specific path even when you are wrong sometimes. They will commit only when they have a clear-cut understanding of things.
3. Hire People Who Are Humble
Your team will be stronger if you learn to hire people who are humble. These are the ones who will share their opinions but also understand the fact that they do not have all the answers required. They are the ones who can understand that team members don’t share their views, and humble people will more readily come around to a decision that is contrary to what they would have initially chosen. They are also quicker to incorporate others, collaborate and offer praise when it is due to others.
Being humble is not the same thing as being submissive. Of course, you want assertive team members, but maintaining the harmony of your team is vital. You can ensure this by bringing on people with humility.
Ask specific questions in the interview to find out if a person is humble. You may need to ask them about what they are best at and where they struggle. Pay attention to how they treat you and anyone else interviewing them. Also, ask questions to see what they think about their former teams to analyze a person thoroughly.
4. Encourage empathy for the customer
Unless your engineering team understands what the customers want, they will not be able to build a great product. UX or user experience should become a more in-depth debate if you’re going to create a better culture that can, in turn, help you in developing a great product. Allowing them to interact with the customers is the best way to accomplish this.
Your team can learn how the customers are going to use the product and what exactly they are trying to achieve by doing it. It is also necessary for you to connect to the API as an end user and see how good the application is and if there are any changes that you need to make. Of course, it will add to the development time but, it is an investment that will pay for itself.