There is plenty of chatter about 10X developer, how you as a manager should strive to hire your 10X developers and create the perfect team.
The truth is that a real 10X developer is a mythical creature. This mythical creature will join your team, be productive as 10 developers, know everything, solve all the problems with your team, deliver software faster than everyone else, mentor everyone and cure cancer.
In reality finding people who are very experienced, visionaries, have great interpersonal relationships, mentors, and write code fast is extremely difficult. We are all humans, and humans have strengths and weaknesses.
Some people are leaders by nature, some are visionaries, some have great attitude and create a great vibe in their team, some are super technological and don’t care about anything else except the technology, design and architecture; some can manage complex projects and cross team/company efforts and some are simply happy to sit all day in front of the keyboard and write code without interruption..
As a manager you should look at your team as a whole and understand what are the strengths and weaknesses of your team. You need to analyze your team’s mission and tasks and ask yourself- is my team capable of doing all their tasks in the best way?
In most cases teams are not optimal. You have too many juniors that have difficulties designing complex systems, or you have too many seniors that you find hard to keep challenged, or that they are not good communicators and keep arguing about every little feature, in the team and outside the team.
So your solutions should be “HIRE a 10X DEVELOPER”, Not!!!.
Instead of the “Hero” solution, build a Power team. Your next hire should be a person who has properties that are missing from your team. With every person you add to your team, you should ask yourself: “Does this person have an added value to my team?”. Each person should bring something new to the table. It does not mean that everybody should be a senior. Bringing a junior into a team of seniors brings new blood, the junior is hungry for knowledge, which is an opportunity for a senior to mentor the junior, this junior is happy to learn and do the less challenging tasks that senior developers did so many times in the past and are already bored with them.
Building a Power Team is 10X better than your 10X developer. A Power Team is capable and able to deliver much faster, affecting the surroundings teams. It is a team that also attracts other talented people that will want to join a winning team.
One very important thing, people don’t stay in the team forever, they move teams and also leave the company for other opportunities. Having a Power team means that your team is more resilient to changes in personnel. The loss of a team member means that you may lose only one trait instead of losing your superstar, that without her the team just falls apart and fails to function properly. Building a power team and the resilience that comes with it allows you to focus on your team members and their growth. You enable them to grow and bring much greater value in the future, while at the same time allowing other team members to step up and grow as well without being overshadowed by the “Hero”.
One last thing, don’t get me wrong, if you can find this mythical 10X developer, by all means, hire her, she can help you build your Power Team. But don’t leave out the rest of the team just because you now have the hero that can save you. Heroes eventually leave and you to save someone else, thus must think long term and build a sustainable team that can handle everything, including the departure of a team member, no matter how good they are.
So what about the 10X developer you ask? Use it as a mental roadmap for personal growth of your team. If you can have 6 developers that each one is a 5X developer, it is much better than one 10X developer :-)