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How to Hire and Build High-Value Teams

Alignment
Building A Team
Meetings
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Coaching / Training / Mentorship

4 April, 2022

Hendra Wong
Hendra Wong

Engineering Manager at Checkr

Hendra Wong, Engineering Manager at Inflection, explains his tips for building teams; explaining how to hire, communicate, and set expectations for the team.

Iterating on Team Building

Throughout my career, I’ve built numerous teams. Each time that I built a team, I iterated on my process – considering what I should, and would, do differently. The most recent team I built was about six months old before I stepped on board.

I followed the interview and hiring process to flesh out the team – and as I look back retrospectively, I search for the difference between the team before and after. I know that now the team has produced a significant amount of value to the company – delivering high-quality work.

Three Factors When Building a Team

Start From the Beginning:

The hiring process is one of the most important steps when building a team. Something that I may do differently is select candidates based on values rather than technical skills. While technical skills are the basic principles that allow candidates to apply for the role, I don’t hire someone until they can prove how their talents match our values.

My company has a rigorous interview process, and while there are pros and cons, the process typically allows panels to understand a candidate’s communication skills. There are around five rounds of interviews, starting with hiring managers, then panels, and finally the leadership level.

Constant Communication:

While forming the team, something that I do is set up the rules of engagement for a team as early as possible. For example, a rule may be detailing how to put in a core request or how to review one. In my experience, conflict is most likely to happen when communication is not clear; therefore, ensuring the rules of engagement mitigates these troubles.

Hashing out the communication guidelines quickly after the team has been created gives members confidence. The rules of engagement should set expectations, so the team members understand what they are required to do and how to go about it.

The Factor of Trust:

You cannot build a great team without the basis of trust. This is one of the human parts of management and building a team. Without the factor of trust, teams will not hold one another accountable.

Trust is built from many moving parts. One of them relates back to the rules of engagement, as having clear expectations allows a team to work better with one another. The second part of trust is constant communication between teams. Lastly, I like to think about the human aspect of a team and add daily fun activities that can be integrated with work. In my findings, teams that have personal and professional relationships are typically more productive – due to the strong trust between members.

Lessons From Team Building

  • Remember that teams are not stationary but move and grow with their members. No matter how it changes, I try to continue to empower the individuals on my team to act as leaders.
  • Having consistent meetings at the beginning of a team’s life cycle is important to maintaining a routine. I’ve found that consistency is key to productivity.

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