How to Assess the Compatibility of Your Company and a Hired IT Employee
A common mistake is to select candidates who do not match with the company in terms of values and methods of work.
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Recently, the shortage of IT specialists has become an increasing problem worldwide. According to a recent survey by research and advisory firm Gartner, IT executives see the talent shortage as the most significant adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this problem. The growing demand for digital products and the spread of remote work have made employees reassess their values.
Ironically, it is often not just about wages, that the company is intrinsically bad or the employee is not prepared for the work. The issue is the mismatch between the candidate and the company in terms of values, approach to challenges, communication patterns and perception of an ideal project.
The key here is the company's systemic ability to match IT talent with the right positions, teams and challenges. In many companies, a different approach is commonplace. For instance, a lot of recruitment assessment focuses on testing the specialist's technical skills, regardless of the environment for which they were selected. Such an approach results in lower employee motivation, higher turnover of staff within teams and prevents the formation of proper teams capable of big breakthroughs.
The solution is to assess not only the employees and their skills, but also the environment in which they are to work. Overall, these three points are to be evaluated:
1. Environment, which means the company, team and projects.
2. Candidate, based on the same criteria, but from another inverted point of view.
3. Matching fit of a specific candidate to a specific environment.
The environment may be described as the space and ambiance in which the candidate is to work.
Here are a few evaluation parameters for a company. Since people are prone to cognitive distortions, self-assessment of your company may not be the most effective way to evaluate:
1. Company culture. What values does your company embrace? What behaviors do you encourage? What disciplinary practices are in place? What is the hierarchical structure of your organization?
2. Wages, privileges and benefits for employees. Do you pay your employees fairly in relation to the market level? Is it a common practice to pay for overtime? And, does it happen often? What are the possibilities for career progression?
3. Team. What team (small and flexible team, large IT department, etc.) will the employee be a part of? Is the project team distributed or located in the same place?
4. Processes. Do you employ agile practices in your operation? How stressful is the workplace environment? What format will the tasks be formulated for the developer?
5. Project type and the prevailing cultural code. All IT projects can be divided into three main types:
- Process-centric project. Features: authority and control are valued; very conservative and hierarchical; less communication between employees and employee involvement in decision-making; the importance of SoW.
- Goal-centric project. Features: project approach; most decisions are made by management, but sometimes the team is involved; achieving the result is valued; in some cases, this can be toxic for the end customer (e.g., mass calling and activation of additional services).
- Customer-centric project. Features: Agile practices; small and flexible cross-functional teams; testing of product hypotheses; developers are very involved in the development and the product discovery process.
6. Employee assignment/role. Why do you need this specialist? What tasks are to be covered? What level of responsibility would you entrust them with?
Related: What to Consider When Hiring Employees
An ideal candidate is someone who fits your specific project and work environment.
Here are the parameters for candidate evaluation:
1. Hard skills. The vast majority of recruitment services today are limited to this block, but it is not enough.
2. Soft skills. They determine how fast and well an employee can adapt to the company. No qualities are negative. As such, analysis of soft skills rather provides insight into individual characteristics and allows, on their basis, to evaluate the candidate's compatibility with the company, project, and team. There are several groups of factors to be assessed here:
- Social interaction characteristics: extroversion/introversion, empathy and teamwork experience.
- Approaches to problem-solving: focus on result/process, level of perseverance, responsibility and meticulousness.
- Interaction with the new: level of curiosity, the scope of interests, willingness and ability to learn and apply knowledge in practice.
- Stress reactivity: reaction to situations of uncertainty and stress, and reaction to intensity, speed and quality of recovery.
3. Work experience. Some of the several parameters to evaluate here are:
- Team level: Where has the candidate worked before? And are they accustomed to working in a team?
- Level of responsibility: What is their past level of involvement in decision-making processes? what is their readiness to take on responsibility?
- Product and service development process: What methods of work are they most familiar with? What experience in product development do they have? What work process is ideal for them?
- Technical skills and engineering culture: How familiar are they with the best engineering culture practices? How do they work with code?
4. Motivation. This is one of the key parameters for assessment, which, in many respects, predicts the length of a talent's stay with a new company. When analyzing motivation, we consider 11 main aspects that were formulated based on the results of large-scale market research. In particular, it is important to understand the focus on talent development within a narrow specialization field and expanding their range of knowledge, practices and tools. It is also important to understand the social drivers behind the career movement of talent, such as the social orientation of the project they will work on, the possibility of public recognition and the opportunity to work on a project with big names (company brand or product popularity).
Related: 5 Reasons Why Hiring Is the Single Most Important Skill for Founders
Saving time and building the perfect team
Many companies focus on hard skills in the recruitment process, ignoring personal characteristics, work experience and preferences. However, according to our observations, developers are often fired not for insufficient qualifications, but due to their attitude, individual communication characteristics, mismatch of expectations and behavior in a specific project. The same specialist can show completely different results in "matching" and "mismatching" projects.
This is why it is important to evaluate not only the candidate, but also the environment in the company.