Jonathan Muller

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How focusing on clear goals, customer needs, and iteration toward innovation can help you attract top technology talent.

As a product manager, I have had the chance to work with a cross-section of the entire Jazz team. While there is no substitute for meeting directly with customers to understand how we can solve their recruiting challenges, I have been able to learn a great deal about our customers by interacting with folks from our design, marketing, sales, and customer success teams.

Another team that I work with regularly is our software engineering team. While engineers aren’t typically the best source of customer feedback, here at Jazz you can regularly find engineers taking a break from coding in order to sit in on a customer call. The best engineers want to learn about customer problems so that they can get feedback to iterate toward new and innovative solutions.

Why Top Tech Talent is Important

According to the Wall Street Journal, the technology skills gap is the highest it has been since the 2008 recession and technology recruiting challenges continue to hamper IT modernization efforts. At Jazz, we are improving recruiting for small businesses through technology and we recognize that our engineering team is key to our success.

Our engineers work closely with our product management and design teams to execute business strategy and product vision.  Great engineers help us to scale an idea or prototype into something that can be used by thousands of customers. The amazing engineering team at Jazz thinks through complex problems and commits to audacious deadlines.

What Top Tech Talent is Looking For

I have had the opportunity to interview and work with great engineers, and while no two technologists are the same, I have found that the most talented software developers are typically looking for a workplace with the following characteristics:

A Culture That Promotes Consistent Progress Toward Clearly Defined Goals

Building complex software can be a long, hard slog. Great engineers will be attracted to teams that show consistent forward momentum on the way to creating transformational products and services. As Teresa Amabile noted in The Progress Principle, small wins encourage “joy, engagement, and creativity” in the workplace.

Understanding of Customer Context

While the developers of yesteryear may have been content to work off of a requirements document that had been “tossed over the wall” from the business-side of the organization, cross-functional teams in 2016 are more collaborative and customer-focused.  

Agile methodologies have replaced waterfall thinking in many industries resulting in dramatically improved success rates for software delivery. Today’s engineers stand ready to reprioritize and pivot based on business dynamics. In order to encourage an understanding of our customers’ constantly changing needs, engineers at Jazz regularly sit in on new user onboarding calls, customer insight sessions, and sales demos.  

The Opportunity to Innovate

As Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group has noted, “The vast majority of developers are passionate about solving real problems for real people.” When engineers are allowed to shut down their text editors and listen intently to customers, amazing things can happen.

By seeing how real users interact with software they’ve built, engineers develop the same kind of empathy that you would expect from a user experience researcher. This first-hand interaction with customers encourages engagement and customer-focused innovation.

Attract Like-Minded Tech Talent

A goal-oriented culture focused on small-wins can lead to innovative solutions for customers. By fomenting a team based on these principles, you can create an environment that attracts technology superstars.

  • Lizzie Jeffrey

    Great read, Jonathan. Thanks for sharing!

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