My take on the Tech Talent Forum by Makers | Den Creative
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My take on the Tech Talent Forum by Makers

How to create a culture of learning – With four key speakers from various industries including JustEat, there was plenty to take away from June’s Tech Talent Forum.

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With four key speakers from various industries, including JustEat, there was plenty to take away from last week’s Tech Talent Forum hosted by Makers Academy.

Just off Commercial Street near trendy Brick Lane, Makers nurtures technical talent and partners with global clients to help with the hiring process and placement.

Focussing on creating a culture of learning, the evening was sure to be interesting for anyone from a technical background, but also as a manager, improving culture is an ongoing item raised at monthly meetings.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the event. A learning culture can be tricky to get right when faced with ongoing client requirements and project deadlines, however I’m glad to say I’ve taken away some key thoughts that we will aim to implement across our business. It can’t hurt to try, right?

1. When hiring, follow the ASK model;

A-ctivity – Inherited attributes that are difficult to teach
S-kill – Needed but can be taught
K-nowledge – Required but will grow

In short, creating a good culture starts with a good hire. We know this already, but what is that in reality?

Looking for a team member that has an abundance of skills and knowledge, is not necessarily going to add to the culture. The third piece of the puzzle is Activity and inherited skills. Is this person going to be difficult to manage or do they already have the attributes to integrate smoothly with the team?

2. Don’t hire problems.

A bold statement which will ring a bell with many hiring managers. How we define a problem is down to the individual company but in a nutshell, Jeremy Burns (News UK) described this as a team of perfectly lined bowling pins being knocked over by the ball. Disruption to the team can have positive and negative effects, usually the latter.

Instinctively we don’t like change. Occasionally we need to throw a curveball at the team but in a positive way. A disruptive addition to the team can have serious consequences. Follow your gut instinct and watch out for a lot of “I, I, I” and also a lot of “we, we, we” answers when interviewing. A balance in the middle is usually a good start.

3. On the topic of coaching and mentoring,

Kate Richardson from Just Eat spoke about how her team have reviewed job titles and aimed to demystify senior positions by introducing tiered mentoring within her team. Allocated time and tasks are distributed and solutions are thought through and tested.

In theory this sounds great, but in agency land, we tend to require the team to utilise 90% of their time on billable work. The other 10% should be spent on personal development but striking a balance between client v internal tasks makes this sometimes impossible.

4. Institutions are failing our teams.

Institutions are failing our teams. This was the view of Fred Scholldorf, (Global Relay) who stated that it’s a digital world and still our education institutions are not prioritising this in the way they teach. In the technical world, teaching students how they learn opposed to a specific subject, will nurture a more useful skill set for budding developers.

5. Celebrate errors!

Strange huh? Well, Makers believe that every error provides a learning experience and now it makes sense. “Why did this happen and how can we avoid this in the future?” A normal reflection we have when something goes wrong. Pointless if we don’t learn from it.

Build, learn, improve. Don’t engage with an error at a concrete level, the black and white, right and wrong way. Pass on your knowledge of how to learn a process to fix the error and your team will enhance their skill set along the way. This applies to all roles within your company.

Give a developer a solution and he’ll apply it, teach a developer the process of finding a solution and he’ll always (eventually) complete the puzzle…

In summary, there were a lot of points raised that I already see in practice here at Den, but with an ever-growing pool of skilled resources and varying skill sets, consistent communication and knowledge sharing is first on the list to get right.

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Harry Barlow

Product Owner

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