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Building the Right Team is More Important than Building a Team

Subhasri Madaka

Engineering Manager at Duo Security

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Problem

As I was growing and scaling a team, I had a problem with some members who were hired. I was late to recognize that although they generally showcased their skillsets in the correct manner, they weren't the right fit for the team in terms of culture and their attitude towards teamwork.

Actions taken

  • I listened to feedback and observed situations where the team member was interacting and reacting to their "internal customers" within the team.
  • I re-evaluated my hiring process and identified key focus areas for soft skills. My goal was to find an individual with the skill sets and the right type of attitude without fixating solely on skill set.
  • We bought in members from other teams into the interview panel to gain a more diverse view. We also steered away from just looking at technology aspects, but rather more on the aspects of being a good team member.

Lessons learned

  • "Know your team. Know each and every member personally. Know their strengths and challenges. Do not hire for the role. Hire for the team. The role might require a specific skill set, but it would mean nothing if they do not fit into the team."
  • "When I was able to take a step back and be an observer, I realized that an individual can interview well and will probably provide the answers you are looking for. But if you observe closely and ask probing questions, you gain a better insight into how they tackle different situations."
  • "If a person can describe their prior experience with a deep understanding, to the point where I could tell that what they learnt in that job, then I knew their skills could transfer into other jobs."
  • "Once we put our new hiring process into place, I found that the skills could be easily picked up. More often than not, the new hires would always do their best to get the job done. Even though they were a bit slow in the beginning, over a period of time, and with the right training, their contributions gained incremental significance and the initial upscale time paid off in the end."

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Subhasri Madaka

Engineering Manager at Duo Security


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationCulture DevelopmentFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthIndividual Contributor RolesTeam & Project ManagementDiversity & Inclusion

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