Dave has over 15 years of experience in the tech industry, with more than ten years in senior tech positions. He also has extensive experience in the ecommerce sector, since he has worked with online marketplaces brands such as Totaljobs Group and Just Eat.
Dave is currently the Chief Technology Officer of Finematter—an ecommerce store that allows independent jewelers from different countries to sell their jewelry to clients worldwide. Finematter operates with the philosophy that jewelry is not merely a fashion accessory, but a long-term investment that will outlive its owners and can be handed down from one generation to another.
Therefore, Finematter serves as an authority on jewelry ownership, providing certification and appraisals for its users. In addition, users can also access certain services for jewelry not bought from the store, such as resizing and renewing existing jewelry.
As the CTO of Finematter, Dave is responsible for the company’s technology needs and products, including figuring out what the company needs to build next, integrating the company’s services, and ensuring customers use their services.
This article covers our discussion with Dave extensively. However, if you’d rather watch the live session itself, here’s the link to the recording:
Hiring can be quite expensive, and it’s not just the cost you’ll incur sourcing for qualified candidates or the fees you’ll have to pay recruiters. The cost of hiring talented people also includes the time spent onboarding new employees and getting them up to speed with the rest of the team.
New employees need all the support they can get to become aligned with the team and the company, and master their roles. Hence, it’s advisable to plan your team’s hiring and onboarding processes by investing in the growth of new members within the team, so that you’re not surprised when they’re not as productive as you anticipated. Here are some tips that can help you hire and onboard new employees with more purpose:
According to Dave, “One mistake leaders make in the hiring process is neglecting to find out the challenges their teams are facing before hiring.” For example, your team may be doing a lot of heavy lifting to make things work, and this could create technical debt.
Dave recommends consulting with your team to find out what tasks they’re struggling to execute to figure out the missing skills in your team and hire people with such skills.
Hiring is a lot of work, since you may have to review multiple applications and interview many candidates before you find the right person for the role. In addition, some of your team members may not want to be involved in the recruitment process, which often involves interviewing candidates during the weekend or outside work hours.
However, you’ll need all the help you can get from your team members to identify who could be a good fit for the role and the team.
Hence, you should always train current employees to become recruiters. As Dave puts it, “The more people on your team understand the recruitment process and are comfortable interviewing candidates, the better the hiring process would be for your team.”
The hiring season never really ends, since your company will always seek out talented people as it goes through different growth stages. You may need to scale your team or hire people with specific skills lacking in your team, and in such situations, it may be tempting to hire quickly to meet up with deliverables.
However, Dave recommends hiring slower, focusing on hiring the right people, and ensuring that your onboarding and development processes for new team members are effective. In his words, “The deliberate and sustained growth of your team members should be your priority, so don’t get too excited when you receive significant funding and go on a hiring spree as you may struggle with onboarding and managing the recruits.”
Dave also recommends extending your hiring team to people outside your team. Ensuring that candidates meet people working alongside your team and around the business during the recruitment process will give the candidate a broader view of the business. For instance, the operations and marketing teams that often interact with the product engineering teams can participate in the new product engineering employees’ recruitment and onboarding process.
New employees should also spend some time rotating with different teams to get a rounded view of the business and learn about the company’s clients. This will enable your teammates to establish a partnership with other teams, treat requests from customers and other teams with empathy, and gain better context of their tasks.
As your team expands, you will need more people to be involved in the hiring and onboarding process, so that you don’t need to depend on the same set of people every time. Documenting your hiring and onboarding processes can help improve these processes and make them more passive.
Dave recommends getting new team members involved in documenting the onboarding processes to improve them. According to him, “Newly onboarded employees should be responsible for making the onboarding process better.”
People settle into their new organizations and new roles at different paces. While you may assume that your new employee will figure things out after some months in the organization, they may be struggling with their new role, which will affect their growth and development within the team and the organization.
Hence, it’s essential to monitor their onboarding progress to enable you to figure out where they need help. Here are some tips that can help you onboard employees better:
Dave recommends setting milestones to monitor when new team members get comfortable with their team, take in the company’s culture, develop into high performers, get used to their work, and figure out if the team is right for them.
Dave recommends leveraging peer feedback to determine if new team members have settled into their roles. In his words, “If the feedback from the team is that the new team member needs less support and can execute tasks independently, then it’s likely that they have gotten the hang of things. But if the feedback is that they still need help in certain areas, you need to figure out how to support them in those areas.”
According to Dave, “Asking new employees to explain specific functions within their role or the business to their team members is a great way to discover if they’ve settled into their role.” This way, they will be forced to think about their roles and certain business operations and articulate them based on their level of understanding. The team can also give them some feedback to help them become better.
As a tech leader, you can also figure out ways to help them get to the high-performing stage quickly based on your assessment of their current understanding of the company’s business and their roles.
According to Dave, “The employee lifecycle includes the hiring process, onboarding process, an employee’s growth and development within the organization, to their exit from the company.” Depending on their experience in the different stages of the employee lifecycle, employees could either become thorns in your side or good ambassadors of your business.
If they are treated well, they will do some soft hiring for your organization, referring suitable candidates to your organization and telling potential employees that they had a good experience with your organization. This can help you cut recruiting costs, because the better your organization’s reputation, the easier it will be to attract talented candidates.
Therefore, as a tech leader, you should focus on enriching the employees’ experience during their time with your organization. If you’re wondering how to do this, the following tips from Dave should help:
You can improve your employees’ experience during their time in your organization by helping them achieve their personal development and career goals, rather than focusing on the fact that they may eventually leave.
For instance, if you have an employee with ambitious career plans and no similar career path in your company, you can have a conversation with them to let them know how far they can go within the organization and discuss their next steps. You can also recommend role changes within the organization that align more with their career plans.
It’s not an easy conversation to have, but you need to acknowledge that the team you put a lot of effort into building may not be there in the long term. Also, it is not advisable to pigeonhole candidates to positions they don’t like only because you’re trying to keep them in the organization. So it’s better to consider their exit as an option, since literally everyone will leave their job someday unless they are the organization’s co-founders.
According to Dave, “The employee lifecycle entails thinking of employees as people and not their job roles.” Hence, it’s important to build genuine relationships with your team members.
Dave recommends having conversations alternating between your team members’ personal life and projects they are working on during one-on-one meetings as an excellent way to build such connections with them. This way, you can stay on top of their progress and figure out how to manage them better.
While having personal conversations with your team members is a great way to bond with them, you should also note that they will be sharing sensitive information with you. Hence, you should connect with them authentically and not just to source for information. If all you’re doing is fishing for information, they may figure it out, and it will affect their experience with your organization and you personally.
People have diverse personal and professional goals that may change over time. Hence, it may be difficult to create and adopt one framework for managing employees that will work all the time.
On the other hand, it’s easy to establish procedures and frameworks for managing employees at different career levels, though people’s preferences and plans may change, and you will end up with a short-lived plan or framework.
Dave recommends being flexible when managing employees instead. Be open to change and adopt processes suitable for each employee.
Employees may decide to leave your organization for several reasons. For example, they may get a better offer, enroll for further studies, switch careers, or start their own business. Sometimes, their resignation may be unexpected, and it could be challenging to have smooth offboarding in such instances. However, having a structured offboarding process can help you manage the exit process. Here are some essential offboarding steps to take:
Ideally, an employee quitting your organization should be responsible for onboarding their replacement. However, this is unlikely, since most employees leave before you can recruit and onboard someone to fill their roles.
Employees often leave with the knowledge they have gained while working for your company, creating a knowledge gap in your team. Thus, it is advisable to ensure that the employee who is leaving shares their knowledge with the rest of the team.
Dave recommends asking them to document and present their work processes, methods, and functions to the team. This way, your team members will be able to refer to the document to fill in the role before you hire a replacement, and you also won’t need to keep contacting the employee who quit for their assistance or guidance on specific tasks.
When someone resigns, their motivation to work declines over time. They will typically spend their last days in the organizations bonding with colleagues and saying their goodbyes. Hence, they are less likely to be as productive as you may expect them to be.
As a tech leader, you need to be empathetic toward the process they are going through and not get them overworked. In addition, you should manage the expectations of stakeholders affected by the employee’s resignation. Let them know that you’re short-staffed or will be short-staffed soon, and it may not be possible to work at the same speed.
The employer–employee relationship or team lead–team member relationship inevitably changes when people exit your organization. It may be difficult to figure out the kind of dynamic your relationship with the employee will take after they leave.
However, it’s essential to keep in touch and build an authentic connection with them. You may work with them or need their assistance in the future, and if you only talk to them when you need something from them, it may be difficult to reinitiate a connection.
Employees may be an organization’s greatest assets, but they don’t need to spend a lifetime at your company before they become valuable assets. As a tech leader, you’d be wise to understand that employees may not stay with your business for as long as you had hoped.
However, you should still help them with their careers and personal development plans, and build a relationship with them that will transcend their stay in your organization, because they are people first before they are assets to your company.
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