In agile software development, we talk about self-organising, self-managing teams. Teams that control their own work and determine what work they do, what they prioritise, and how they deliver the final results. The teams take on this responsibility with the proviso that they have everything they need. But how often do they really have everything they need?
The most important things the team needs are, you guessed it, the right team members. With the right people working together, the sky’s the limit. But how often do the teams actually get the chance to choose their own members?
Let’s say an existing team needs a new person to replace someone that’s leaving. In a typical hierarchical environment, they would reach out to the function lead, for instance, the Developer Manager, and explain what skills they need. This person would then pass this requirement on to the HR department to help them with this. Centralizing this recruitment capability generally makes most sense, as this process can be quite laborious and administration heavy, as well as requirement specific legislative knowledge. When a suitable candidate is found, the Developer Manager would do the interview, perhaps with the tech lead of the team of there are specific technical skills required from the candidate that the Developer Manager doesn’t have experience with. If they deem the candidate suitable, they start the process of getting them onboard. When does the candidate they get to meet the rest of the team? Usually only on the day they join. What happens if there are some real personality clashes with other members of the team? Too late.
Ultimately the team should be doing as much of the recruiment as possible. They should all be involved in putting together the recruiting spec that goes to the HR department. When potential candidates are identified, it’s the team that should be identifying them and earmarking which ones to interview. They team should also decide what their interview process should look like. Will there be an inital round with the team first for personality fit and then a technical interview afterwards only when they feel they will be able to work together? Will it be the other way around? Who gets to do the technical interview? Is it the developers only, or should the Business Analyst be involved too as she will be working closely with the developer on the User Stories?
If the teams are going to be successfully self-managing and responsible end-to-end, they need to be very clear about their role and the process they follow bringing new people into their team.