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By Yousef Awad, CEO
When it comes to a software development team, developers and testers aren’t the only roles you need on your team. To successfully create effective, high-impact software with maximum efficiency and value on time and within budget, it takes a village. At Integrant, we carefully craft that village to serve your software development project and needs.
One large and often unspoken piece of the village is internal support. For our teams, the main pillar of internal support is our Squad Lead role. Even before starting Integrant, I’ve always had a strong vision for how people—customers and employees alike—should be treated and have bounced around different ideas for how to make an environment like that maintainable and scalable. The first step was to communicate our principles.
Stemming from those principles, one of our company objectives has been to create the best workplace on earth. It’s important to me that our company goes the extra mile to guarantee that everyone who works at Integrant receives the resources, opportunity, and time they need to pave the road for career and personal development. Squad Leads are a great way to showcase how we put this idea of creating the greatest workplace on earth into action.
At Integrant, we have put a lot of thought into how to structure our teams for success.
It’s crucial for our team members to have internal support leaders that foster company values to build a cohesive culture, provide overall vision and strategy to projects so they can focus on delivery, care about and put together a plan for each team member’s development, and facilitate collaboration not just between customers and teams, but collaboration between squads for alignment.
This value-add position serves as a level of professional and personal support for each of our team members on any given project. A Squad Lead is focused on the quality of delivery in favor of our team members.
This is unique in the sense that Squad Leads (and their team) is not focused on the financial side of the project. Their sole purpose is to offer team members support, remove roadblocks, facilitate development, and provide what they need so they can deliver projects effectively and with great quality.
Another important thing to note about Squad Leads is that we limit the amount of team members they oversee so Squad Leads can give appropriate support to each person. Our golden rule is that no Squad Lead or Squad Lead Manager should oversee more than 15-20 people.
Squad Leads are also an important resource for creating a sustainable work-life balance and a supportive atmosphere for our team members; two critical pieces for creating the best workplace on earth.
This is why Squad Leads oversee a maximum of 20-25 team members. This ranges from 2-6 projects. The projects assigned to each customer are based on industry and experience, team size, and project complexity. Capping the number of team members in each squad allows everyone to receive the support and attentiveness they deserve.
Squad Leads focus on the needs of each team member by conducting monthly 1:1 meetings to:
1- Know individual strengths and knowledge gaps
2- Collaboratively build a career development plan that incorporates personal and project skillset needs (technical and soft skills)
3- Provide continuous feedback
4- Understand each individual and how to motivate them
5- Effectively utilize tools like our 4Plus1 program to give time to recharge and learn
6- Uncover roadblocks and problem solve on how to remove them
Squad Leads also implement retention programs such as:
Our team members are our most important asset.
This is why we have focused on recruiting and retaining the best:
When it comes to looking for the right fit candidates at Integrant, we want potential candidates understand our commitment to our values, principles, and providing a high-level of service to our employees and customers.
Squad Leads are an essential part of identifying whether candidates reflect Integrant’s values. We are strong believers that if we are choosing team members with similar values and passion, we can coach or train anything.
Throughout an interview process, they (in addition to our technical SMEs) are a representative of Integrant’s culture and support recruitment by:
Because Squad Leads are a big part of how we ensure the success of the individual, each potential employee interviews with a Squad Lead. After all, they are a critical component as we strive to provide an environment that encourages growth and development (aka creating the best workplace on earth).
When it comes to Squad Leads, though they may be quiet collaborators, our clients can tangibly experience the benefits of this position in the outcome of their projects.
When individuals feel supported to pursue their development goals and can take time off to recharge or for important personal events without project deadlines or crises weighing on them, project success is inevitable.
Squad Leads support the development while TPLs guarantee delivery. This, combined with an account manager, creates an unrivaled trifecta of support. Through these roles, our goal is always to come out with a win-win-win:
I’m proud to say this mindset and creating this support structure has given us a 5-year retention average for our employees. We also know the longer our team members work together, the more effective and efficient they become.
With this extra layer of support, our Squad Leads are able to foster an environment to encourage team members to share their ideas to improve project solutions and project efficiencies. After establishing a strong relationship built with transparency and trust, this leads to more scalable, robust software projects that our customers can rely on. After all, our team members get to know our customers and their domains inside and out and practice a one-team approach.
Not only does this allow Squad Leads to cultivate a solution-oriented mindset, the support our team members feel leads to greater transparency, ownership, and communication with our customers.
Squad Leads were implemented in 2018 as part of Integrant’s efforts to create the best workplace on earth. This pillar of support served as a way for our team members to receive the support they needed to grow and thrive. We knew this would extend to our customers as a happy employee translates to more motivation and recharged and passionate engineers.
Though we continue to iterate on best practices and how to best serve our employees (and by extension, our customers), we always have our team members’ development, stability, and happiness in mind.
By providing access to resources and methods of constant communication and support, we strive to sustain a healthy and welcoming work environment that manifests innovation, compassion, and growth.
About the Author: Yousef Awad
Yousef Awad is the CEO of Integrant Inc, a company that reflects his personal and professional values and prioritizes relationship building and predictability. Prior to starting Integrant in 1992, Yousef spent much of his career on the technical side of software development. This experience solidified and fueled his vision to start Integrant. Yousef has dedicated the last 30 years to building Integrant’s brand, recruiting and retaining the best employees, and strengthening relationships with our customers. Yousef considers himself a customer and employee advocate, always striving to do what’s in the best interests of customers and employees alike, prioritizing transparent, long-term partnerships.
Integrant’s Vision is to transform the software development lifecycle through predictable results.