5 Things for a CTO to Consider When Building a Team

Teams don’t build themselves. This is one of the biggest lessons for any CTO in a scaling tech business.

Sure, you might get the odd occasion where a group of individuals brought together immediately gel but relying on it happening organically isn’t an effective strategy for any business. While we’re on the subject, nor is saying phrases like ‘we’re all a team here’ and leaving it at that.

Many companies out there have devs working remotely (even more recently due to the pandemic) and that’s the case for us at FanFinders. Whilst this does present a few more challenges than if everyone was in the office or a set space, it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to build a real team. 

It’s the little things that add up. One thing we do in addition to our morning standup is that every Friday at 4:30, we all jump on a call and discuss what we’ve got planned for the weekend. This is a nice wind down to a busy working week. 

You have to be proactive in building your team, it won’t just happen by itself.

From recruitment through to removing unnecessary bureaucracy, here are a few steps you can take when growing your team:

Recruit for the Person

While having a team with the right knowledge and experience matters, so does what an individual brings to the business with their personality and how they fit into the culture.

Technical skills can be learnt and experience gained, but what drives or motivates someone each day, their attitude and ability to adapt tend to be more stable traits. 

Our business is one that likes to foster innovation and challenge existing structures in our market, so looking for people that can think differently and with values that mesh with ours is just as important as having an impressive CV. 

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Find the Right Blend

Most teams will have a mixed level of abilities. Some individuals are going to be exceptional and others will be more steady, but realistically you need that mix to succeed. 

However, there is a balance to strike between trusting your staff’s capabilities and ensuring you’re there if they need your help. 

Keep your processes lean and resolve any impediments quickly. Concentrate your efforts on setting them on the right path, clear that path of obstacles and then let them get on with it.

By treating your staff with respect, listening to them and actively helping if they do call out, you can be certain they’ll be standing next to you in the trenches when the time comes.  

Establish Trust

There may be some element of truth to the phrase ‘trust needs to be earned’, but I’m also a strong believer in trust being something implicit. 

Regardless of whether it’s a new team member on their first day or a seasoned developer who’s been with you for 10 years, you have to put that bond in place and keep working on it.

All of our team at FanFinders work remotely and not for one moment do I feel the need to call them to check they’re there. Our process gives us many ways to track progress and if an individual isn’t delivering, it’s easy to spot and rectify.

You should also encourage feedback, because the key is that the team trust in what they’re doing and feel as if they can have input towards improving the department.

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Make Them a Contributor

Another crucial aspect of building a team is successfully sharing the vision. 

You know in your head where you want your systems to be in a year’s time or you have a definitive technical roadmap. These are dictated not only by IT, but wider business demands. 

Make sure your team understand that roadmap going forwards, where you are heading, objectives and key deliverables. But not only that, regularly get their input and embrace their feedback. 

You want your team to buy into that dream and for it to all make sense, they need to feel like they’re a contributor, not a spectator. All of those smaller tasks are building blocks towards an end goal, whatever that may be.

Get Out of the Way

A big part of a CTO’s role is to remove any barriers for your team so they can get on with their job.

This sounds simple because it is. Simplicity is underrated.

Don’t introduce unnecessary bureaucracy into your processes and respect your team as individuals. You’ll find that this soon reaps so many unexpected rewards.

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