Home » Agile » Why I don’t like to hire team leads

About Aviran Mordo

Aviran Mordo has over 20 years of experience in the software industry. He has been in many engineering roles and leading positions in start-ups and large corporations. Aviran is a tech-savvy and a technology blogger since the year 2000, with vast knowledge of the internet and software development.

Why I don’t like to hire team leads

Every company has its own culture that it wants to preserve. As a company grows it becomes harder to preserve its culture as you as a manager need (and should) give up control to team leads and to people you manage.

Good company has a set of values, best practices and culture. When you hire a new person to the company it takes a while until he/she learns and assimilates himself with the company’s culture.

When you put someone in a managerial position where they need to lead other people, there is a mini culture that is being created for each team. If you did your job right this mini culture is more or less aligned with the overall culture of the company.

For a fast growing company building new teams is necessary. The team lead plays a major role in building the team and setting its mini-culture. Hiring a person for a team-lead position is a huge gamble, since he comes with a different set of values, methodologies and culture from the previous jobs they had.

Also, the fact that a person was a team-lead on a different company does not necessary means he has what it takes to be a team lead at another company with a different culture and methodologies. This is especially true for people who want to change positions and did not previously led a team, but are looking to be one. Since you don’t know them you don’t know if they are the kind of people you want to lead your teams.

So what to do in order to make your new team lead successful at his job? The thing I like to do with people who may be hired as team leads is to tell them straight that we don’t promise a team lead position, but they will need to start working as an engineer with a team lead potential, learn the culture, methodologies and best practices for about 6 months where we will have the chance to evaluate if that person is good enough to be a team lead. After a period of time when the need to a new team lead arises we will consider them to be one in case they fit the position.

I also like this method because it promotes people from within the organization and allows people to grow inside the company and not having to leave the company in order to get a promotion. Also by the time a person becomes a team lead he already had a chance to gain the respect of his peers and be more accepted as a team lead.

What do you think?

Reference: Why I don’t like to hire team leads from our JCG partner Aviran Mordo at the Aviran’s Place blog.

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7 years ago

If everyone did this it might work, but since it is just one company I don’t see why anyone would sign up to this * there’s a risk that the company doesn’t give them the title after 6months so the job actually doesn’t turn out to be what they expected * if they leave before the ‘promotion’ their cv will show that they took a more junior position. That raises eye brows and questions * presumably they get paid less otherwise when they are promoted they are doing more for the same money. Why would anyone do that ? *… Read more »

Aviran Mordo
Aviran Mordo
7 years ago

* if the job did not turn out the way they expected or they leave before the 6 months is actually another reason why they should not be a TL in the first place. * Job title has no effect on the pay grade. * Cultural fit means is also the ability to lead in the environment you are at. It has nothing to do with fear of changes (we actually embrace and like change). Being a team lead is not like being a tech lead. You have a lot of interactions with many people outside of your team and… Read more »

7 years ago

This is a very conservative thinking. When new person joins he brings with him a diff perceptive and BTW leaning to adopt to new culture is not a big issue. In short you want a senior person to accept a junior level position and then after sometime you will decide whether to promote him or not. I don’t think any competent person will join this kind of organization. The problem may be because of lack of recruiting skill; if you are capable of hiring a right person then these problems won’t arise. Grow up man 20 yrs exp person shouldn’t… Read more »

7 years ago
Reply to  Jayant

I like this approach, and I can think of at least one benefit that wasn’t listed: it avoids having the team feel that unproven talent has been airdropped in to “lead” them. When a team lead is hired and that person doesn’t work out it’s bad for everyone, but I don’t think anyone suffers more than the team they were assigned to lead. Jayant, it sounds like you’re bringing a *ton* of personal baggage into your interpretation of this approach. This article doesn’t dismiss different perspectives (it acknowledges “mini culture”), and it doesn’t say that the person will be given… Read more »