Startup Life/How To/ How to upskill your engineering team We look at how companies can stop their engineers from getting bored By Anisah Osman Britton 29 July 2022 \Startup Life The UK business loans and grants available for startups By Jessica Rawnsley 24 March 2023 Startup Life/How To/ How to upskill your engineering team We look at how companies can stop their engineers from getting bored By Anisah Osman Britton 29 July 2022 Tomas Vocetka thinks upskilling as a software engineer is the responsibility of both the individual and the employer. He would know: he’s been an engineer for over 30 years and has had several senior technical leadership roles at places like IT giant Hewlett Packard and Skype (once it was acquired by Microsoft.) Now, he’s CTO at Berlin-based travel comparison booking app Omio, leading a team of 140 engineers. As an employer, you can’t just hire superstars and expect them to get on with it. You need to develop them so they remain top of their game and work in a way that matches the company’s needs. In our Startup Life newsletter, we asked Tomas for his top tips for how to upskill your team — and stop them getting bored: Create a formal learning and development programme Dedicate part of your budget to creating a learning menu of tools, courses and other resources. Create a framework on how to use the resources to reach different goals and objectives. In the early days, you could provide access to online learning platforms like Pluralsight or Udemy. These platforms are great at putting together training plans, testing engineering skills and keeping track of what’s being learnt. Bring in engaging specialists If you’re bringing in a new tool or technology or need to get everyone on the same page with a particular methodology, bring in external specialists to help. If the training is mandatory, make sure it’s engaging. Lean on peer-to-peer learning Find opportunities for engineers and leaders to present their learnings to the wider team — maybe they discuss a technology they’re using in an interesting way or a process they’ve improved. At Omio, presentations and showcases are recorded for the internal wiki. Use one on ones to create a learning plan Ask engineers in their performance reviews where they want their career to go, what they need to progress and how the company and its leaders can support them to make that happen. Flag the formal learning and development programmes that could be beneficial to them — a big part of making internal L&D programmes successful is internally marketing them. On a case by case basis, you may need to offer access to specific training courses — like in person courses, online training, workshops — which are not provided by the company because an engineer is working on something new or niche. Focus on soft skills just as much as the hard, technical ones To reach senior engineering positions, you need to have excellent soft skills — the ability to explain how things work, manage stakeholders and collaborate across the company. Books like Never Split the Difference can help. Offer programmes that focus on the psychology of thinking like Myers-Briggs and Insights Discovery colours. Being a good leader is understanding that having different ways of approaching problems on the team is advantageous. Don’t expect people to stay just because your training is good Yes, training and upskilling helps with retention but people always leave. It’s not a waste of time to have trained them for three reasons: If every company trained developers well, then the entire industry would benefit as they moved around. Your company benefited from it while they were there. They would have left quicker if you didn’t have it in place. Don’t get a leaver to pay for their learning. In rare cases where someone has asked to do something outside of the standard programme — say, go to a conference in Australia for two weeks — implementing some kind of clawback could be an option. The clawback could state an X period of employment is expected or the employee will have to pay something back. On the subject of… upgrading your engineering team 🇦🇫Hire developers from Afghanistan. As infrastructure — like home WiFi — improves around the world, it will be easier to hire talent from anywhere. 🖥️ Tech talent shortage. Here’s how to attract developer talent to your startup. 🎓 How to keep your team learning constantly. Having a personal development plan for each person is key. 🙋🏽♀️Create a learning community. Get together with colleagues who have similar work interests and needs — either on Slack or in person — to learn something new together. 👋 They’re leaving because they’re not growing — here’s how to encourage your developers to stay. Anisah Osman Britton is coauthor of Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter, which comes out weekly on Wednesdays. Sign up here. Related Articles Entrepreneurship should be mandatory from secondary school. This is why. By Vanessa Martins Lopes Click here to read more How to talk about that downround By Cordelia Meacher Click here to read more 22% of fintech jobs at risk from coronavirus — but it could be much worse By Isabel Woodford Click here to read more London best city in the world for entrepreneurs, ranking shows By Sifted reporters Click here to read more Most Read 1 \Startup Life UK government to reform ‘equity for visas’ residency application system 2 \Fintech Is Revolut really worth $33bn right now? 3 \Startup Life Techstars unexpectedly pulls out of Sweden mid-programme 4 \Deeptech The other funding gap: it’s not just unicorns that are leaving Europe 5 \Deeptech ‘There’s going to be a bloodbath’ — is generative AI a bubble?