Hiring For an Agile Team: Making Tradeoffs

In Hiring for an Agile Team: Who Do You Need?, I asked you to consider the kinds of people you were looking for. Yes, you might need developers or testers or BAs or writers. And, I suggested you think about T-shaped people, those folks who could do whatever it takes to move a feature forward. This post is about how you consider those tradeoffs.

You do need to consider technical skills when you consider tradeoffs. I like to consider four dimensions of technical skill. However, those technical skills are the tip of the iceberg for your tradeoffs. Your agile culture is much more critical to the success of your team.

When you performed your job analysis, you listed some non-technical skills as essential. Some were desirable. Only you know which ones were which. I can guess about which non-technical skills you listed:

  • Able to collaborate
  • Able to coach others and accept  coaching
  • Able to do something good enough for now
  • Servant leadership (for leads, coaches, agile project managers,  Scrum masters)
  • Able to ask for help
  • Able to provide feedback and take feedback
  • Someone with high initiative
  • Able to take small steps and get feedback
  • Able to do something good enough for now
  • Able to understand tradeoffs in the project
  • Willing to work outside his or her expertise

Do you need someone with all of these qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills? Maybe. Maybe not.  And maybe you have other non-technical skills you require. It's up to you.

Is it possible for you to find all of these non-technical skills and all of the technical skills in one person for the salary you are willing to pay? I have no idea.

You will need to make tradeoffs. You need to decide what you can hire for and what you can train, once you get someone in.

This is where your culture hits your hiring big-time.

There is a shortage of trained agile people. There are people who would love to become agile. You, as a hiring manager or recruiter, have a terrific opportunity. But not if you wait and wait and wait forever to hire.

The people who want to become agile will find a way to obtain experience. If they have the growth mindset, grab them. They will work.

In part 3: Look for the Growth Mindset, we'll discuss how you discern the people who want to be agile from the people who actually are or could be agile. It's all about hiring for the growth mindset. (Psst, you might not have an agile culture, so don't be surprised if people turn you down, either.)

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