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Teams need a mix of experience

Every startup obsesses over hiring those few perfect senior engineers.

Here’s why that can be a bad idea:

Strong teams aren’t made up of uniformly senior folks. You need energetic juniors with fresh eyes, curious intermediates, and a healthy practice of learning and teaching.

Part of the value of having senior engineers is being able to level up teammates. The best engineers I’ve worked with always had strong emphasis on knowledge sharing with the goal of leveling up everyone. For them, it was satisfying helping team members learn, grow and succeed.

But for the careers of juniors and intermediates, balance is key. They need work that consistently challenges them. If senior engineers always get first dibs, that’s a problem.

Fairly distributing work is a leadership challenge. But on a senior-heavy team, some will politick to snag the best projects. That can contribute to a toxic work environment and it leaves less choice for intermediates and juniors.

So embrace a mix of experience levels. It’s crucial for any org. A mix of seniority levels makes for the healthiest, most productive teams.


Published Apr 3, 2024

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