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Growing Teams in Technology

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Tips for effectively engaging and hiring local and international talent

Like many industries, IT faces its own unique set of challenges in hiring and retaining talent. In the wake of COVID-19, new opportunities and obstacles are starting to emerge - the availability of local talent, candidate expectations about ways of working and what competitors are offering potential new hires have all changed radically.

Recently, Parallo hosted a panel discussion that focused on where we’re at and how we can grow the talent market. We were joined by a group of inspiring speakers including:

  • Russ Bennett, GM, Plexure
  • Duanne O’Brien, CTO, Serko
  • Arunima Dhingra, CEO and Director, Aims Global
  • Pri Mills, ANZ Manager, Pitcheers

 Here are our top five key takeaways:

 1: Establishing good software architecture to enable your team to grow

There’s a high correlation between your software and platform architecture and your ability to grow – both products and teams, local and international, Russ says.

“If you look back to the 80s and 90s, the teams coming out of Silicon Valley were highly aggregated and could build these really big operating systems. Things just aren’t like that anymore. Probably in the last five years or so, teams understand building things in a micro way which means we can operate software and teams in correlation with each other.

“That starts from a leadership position. If you don't have that, it's about seeding the idea. You have to take the entire organisation on a transformation journey.”

 2: Growing high-performing, harmonious technology teams

As Duanne and Russ jointly explain, building a high-performing technology team is similar to a high-performing sports team. In their experience, that consists of three steps:

  1. Set clear expectations from the get-go. “You’ve got to hire good people who have a good harmony within your team. That’s why we hire on character – we can deal with the skills and experience gaps, but you can’t pigeonhole people – it doesn’t work like that.”
  2. Break down traditional barriers in IT. “When you set an underlying culture that has harmony to it and is focused on high performance, that often balances out those salary conversations. We want to make sure we always promote one person internally and then bring in someone new who has fresh ideas. We want our staff to know that as we grow, there is a real development roadmap for them moving forward. We’ve got to provide a safe (and fun!) environment where people want to come to work and can stop and talk to an executive in the lunchroom comfortably.”
  3. Empower your people to learn and grow. “You have to have a bit of faith and trust in your people. If you don’t empower your people to learn from their mistakes, it doesn’t matter how safe you perceive your working environment, people will still fear the repercussions.”

 3: Effective recruitment is candidate-driven

Gone are the days when recruitment practices were all about the company. As Pri explains, “You must be candidate-driven”, especially when you’re asking people to pack up their lives and shift to New Zealand.

  • Growing your team is now a sales activity. “If you don't engage with the candidates in the first interview, and they don't fall in love with you, you’ve likely lost them.”
  • Focus on your processes. Assess your recruitment processes and ask yourself whether there are improvements you could make to deliver a better, smoother candidate experience.

 4: Building remote working capabilities

In the wake of the global pandemic, there’s been an increased expectation for companies to support remote work. Duane says it’s something that Serko is embracing with open arms. He adds that the biggest challenge has been “keeping the connective tissue” between people and teams.

“You need to establish what you need to keep people productive, like equipment and hardware, and how often you need to bring people together to build that connective tissue with each other. That’s a balance we’re still working on.”

 5: Bringing talent from overseas

Lastly, New Zealand immigration has recently introduced new pathways for overseas workers, and it’s good news for fast-scaling IT companies. Several IT roles have been added to the Green List of occupations, which provides a fast track to residency. One of the biggest changes is the Accredited Employer Work Visa which requires employers to meet a new set of requirements when hiring migrants from 4 July 2022.

Arunima explains why this is a good thing for IT companies:

  • Focus on people’s welfare. Unlike the old accreditation system which was “heavy on HR policies”, this new system is more about compliance, key people obligations and how you look after your people.
  • Aligning with market rates. “Immigration has clamped down on the concept of market rates and aligning with inflation as it goes up and down.” That’s a good shift for those companies wanting to attract overseas candidates, even as the cost of living fluctuates.

For more information, get in touch with the team at Parallo.