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Building a tech team – what are the biggest challenges?

date: 26 October 2022
reading time: 7 min

No matter whether you are building a team within a small start-up type of institution or within a much larger organisation, your challenges don’t change, and your approach should be based on the same principles. Here’s why!


What does building a team mean?

One of the main principles to take into consideration when creating a team is that building a team always means building a team. No matter the scale of the organisation you are doing it for, no matter the sector you are in, or the budget you have, the challenges around creating a team of people who are to work together are always the same, or at least very similar. After all, it’s all about dealing with people, about supporting and managing them in the best possible way.


Managing teams across different locations  

In terms of logistics, managing teams based in different locations got a lot easier after the pandemic. Today everyone is working remotely – it became a standard. Beforehand, it was a pretty unusual thing, but the only one that worked if one was to manage teams based on different continents.  

What has not changed at all is the approach. When creating a team based on a certain culture, it’s critical to understand the culture of people you are going to work with. A team based in Hungary will be different from a team based in Poland, from a team based in the UK or from a team based in India. Their problems and motivations will be different, too. If the team building process is to be successful, one needs to get to know the culture and background by doing proper research.

A great way to understand people you are going to work with is to ask them about their challenges. Not only work-related challenges, but general ones.

You may be surprised by what you hear: someone will be worried about inflation, someone else about travel (like for example people working from India who often collaborate with companies based in different time zones and need to leave office late at night when there is no public transport).  

The most effective way of learning about those challenges is to have meetings with as many people as possible, to make yourself available to everyone who wants to talk, to interact with people within the organisation you work for. Only that way a manger is able to understand what motivates the team and what impacts the way it works. 


The biggest challenge when building a team 

Building a team always means challenges, and the main one is to make people understand the culture you want to build. To do so, the manager must be clear about the values the team needs to represent and must be able to communicate them so that everyone understands them. And must stick to them at all times, no matter what.  

How to convey such a message? It’s important to take time to speak about it to everyone within the team, to walk around the office (personally if possible, or virtually, by arranging different meetings), or to organise a big team meeting if speaking to everyone in person is physically impossible. All those conversations and meetings will help pass on the message on what’s most important for you and how you want to work.   

After the phase of introduction, it is crucial to be able to explain to people your operating model, to justify why you made certain decisions and why you stick to them even when you are being challenged. This doesn’t mean that you are not listening to other views just that sometimes leadership requires you to make decisions and stick to those decisions.

Seeking continuous feedback ensures that you use data to validate any decisions made and have the ability to improve.

When building a team, you need to be ready to have difficult conversations and in those moments it’s worth remembering about your KPIs. Human-centered approach is extremely important and should always be at everyone’s heart, but when you are to have a difficult conversation, if someone is undermining your credibility, you need to have facts and KPIs that will speak for you.  


Things to avoid when creating a team  

When you are in a fast-moving environment, it can be tricky to keep the balance between being too rigid and accepting too much criticism. The main advice here would be to never change your mind too quickly, without thinking it through first. There may be some tough moments when people don’t believe in you when they challenge you, but you need to stay firm behind the decisions you made and behind the team you support.  

If you are to change your decision, always take into consideration the impact your change will have on the team and people you work with.

Too many changes cause destabilisation and people may stop seeing your clear direction. 


Setting up a team from scratch: the shortage of IT professionals  

The first thing you need when you set a team from scratch is the knowledge of who exactly you need: suppliers, managers, service management, data, architecture, security, engineering team, dev ops, and all other different roles.  

Top things to know when building a tech team:  

  • choose people with a strong can-do attitude, who can knock down hurdles when they arise;  
  • always be positive; 
  • always look for people with the right mindset and cultural fit.  

When setting up a tech team you also need to take into consideration the situation in the market. We all know it’s difficult to find IT professionals nowadays, and you may need a lot of them. This is why when creating a team, you should decide on the model you want to go for: either a permanent team of people employed by you or a mix of full-time employees and an outsourcing partner.

If it’s the former solution, decide on the ratio: is it 30 – 70 (30% of your own employees, 70% of outsourced staff) or 70 – 30, or 50 – 50?

Once you know your blend, you need to decide what exactly you are going to outsource and how are you going to do that, which specialists will be from the outsourcing agency, and which will be employed by you. It’s important that you build the model yourself, that you decide what’s the right balance, which parts do you want to do by yourself and which you want others to do.

And remember that managing an outsourcer is very different from managing your own people.


Cultural differences when outsourcing  

Once you decide about the outsourcing model you want to stick to, it is important to remember that your outsourcing partner should be the right fit for your company. After all, if you don’t get on with people, if the teams are not working together, then even the best contract you sign is totally useless. Getting to know the company you are about to collaborate with – their experience, flexibility, quality – is therefore crucial if your collaboration is to be successful.    


Top competencies in the financial industry from a fintech scale-up point of view  

And lastly, a few words about the competencies needed in the fintech world. While knowledge of the industry is always very important and welcomed, the lack of it should never preclude anyone from hiring someone with a different background. Such an approach may even prove beneficial, as different background usually means different perspective.  

There are some industries that are more closed than others, like health tech, but fintech is a much more open environment, ready to accept people from a variety of other sectors.  

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Georgina Owens is a CTO at Liberis, Top UK CIO 100 2019 and 2020, UK Top 50 Most Influential Women in Tech 2020 and 2021 and Women in IT Awards nominee and winner.

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