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Hartley’s Handbook #6 — Balance of Teams
Talking to a mentee this week, we were discussing whether it would be more beneficial to have 2 Mid-level engineers or 1 Lead-level…
Talking to a mentee this week, we were discussing whether it would be more beneficial to have 2 Mid-level engineers or 1 Lead-level engineer join the team.
Before I think further through this, form your thoughts. If given the opportunity, when would you choose the two mids vs one lead? Leaving values alignment and other human skills out of it for a moment, let’s think through this together.
The question is hypothetical for most folks, but some ways that I think through the situation…
#1 What does the seniority of your team currently look like?
If you’ve got all juniors and mids, I would definitely consider a more senior engineer to join the team. Their focus would be on mentoring the less experienced engineers, guiding technical direction, and being more of a mentor for leveling your team up.
#2 Is anyone currently filling the more senior role already?
If so, you could create an imbalance by hiring someone at that same level. In this case I would lean more toward the two mid-levels as long as I felt the current lead-level engineer and other senior members could tackle mentoring more individuals.
#3 What sort of work do you need the individual to complete?
If you are looking for someone to get ramped up, be productive immediately, and contribute to architectural design and technical work for a greenfield project, it may be more beneficial to hire the lead-level engineer. If you need some additional engineering power to take smaller tickets or pair with a more senior individual, I would lean toward the less experienced engineers.
Personally, I generally aim for less-experienced engineers that have a passion and drive for learning, that have proven themselves elsewhere, and who align closely with my company’s mission and values. You may not have the right support systems in place to lean in that direction, and that’s fine, but definitely something worth considering.
It’s all about balance. Balance of team structures, the balance of team personalities, the balance of team seniority, and the balance of priorities.
So where do you land, which engineers would you hire in this situation?
What I read this week:
What we get wrong about machines taking our jobs — Tech Brew
Productivity — How To Master Time Management — Séverin Bruhat
Inside Uber’s move to the Cloud: Part 1 — Gergely Orosz
Book I’m Looking Forward to Reading: Scaling People: Tactics for Management and Company Building
I mentioned it last week as well, but the book by Claire Hughes Johnson already looks to be an awesome resource. With pages for jotting down notes, and being introspective about current practices, I’m excited to dive further in.
Have an engineering leadership question? Let me know! I would love to find an answer together with you.
Similarly, what is helpful to you in these newsletters? More links? More ideas? Meatier topics?