Here I am going to tell you about my first steps as CTO and provide some useful tips for those who are on their first day and want to improve their performance from day one.
Let’s start at the beginning:
What is a CTO?
CTO stands for Chief Technology Officer. The CTO always plays a key role in the strategic development of the technological part of the company. On the one hand, they establish the strategy and the steps to be followed at the technical and organizational level.
On the other hand, they are in charge of managing their team of developers or engineers, so that they can perform their task well and achieve the objectives defined by the strategy.
An initial tip: get a mentor
It may sound like a movie, but whenever you get into a position where you have to lead projects and manage people, it is worth having references. Or even better: teachers and mentors.
Try to find someone in your circle of contacts who is accessible and suggest a coffee with them. Ask them about their experience, tell them about your doubts and let them, with their years as a CTO behind them, be the one to advise you.
These types of personal contacts are always ideal because, regardless of what you may read in articles like this one, getting to know specific experiences of like-minded people, face to face, always represents an important boost of confidence and knowledge.
Having a mentor or someone to turn to is invaluable, as you will see.
First steps as a CTO
Here are some tips and initial steps once you become CTO:
- Familiarize yourself with the company you are working for. How its departments work, what are their main objectives, what is the relationship between the different Heads of the company.
- Start studying the business and team leadership. (Here is an interesting article about leadership and empowerment of your team).
- As a first practical step, try to align the department’s strategy with the company’s strategy. The technological part has to respond exactly to the needs of the business.
- Learn communication skills to be able to communicate well what your ideas and objectives are. Both so that your team can perform at its best, and so that you can report to other departments.
- Empower your team: while leading your team, you must be able to see the skills of each of its members and to cede authority in some cases, so that they themselves lead aspects of the strategy. In this way, you will achieve greater involvement and better results. Here are some ideas to motivate your team.
At the same time that you discover the potential of your team, you must discover their weaknesses, the points to work on of each one. Not to judge them, but to help and accompany them in their improvement. That is what is expected of a good leader: to make theirteam grow.
Create your first recruitment framework
As CTO, you will be in charge of finding the best profiles for your company. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for them. It’s not just about finding capable candidates, it’s about finding the right candidates for your company’s specific problems:
- Identify three or four key skills that the person you want to hire should have. These should be skills that you can evaluate and quantify and then make comparisons.
- Prepare interviews with the candidates that allow you to have an overview of all aspects of what you need. These questions should focus on evaluating the specific skills you are looking for.
- Give a score to each of the interview questions, in order to have a statistical tally at the end that allows you to compare between candidates.
With these general guidelines, you will be able to interview candidates and obtain from them different answers, but at the same time quantified according to what your department specifically needs. And don’t forget the psychological aspect of the candidate, beyond his or her capabilities. That is to say, evaluate how they will be able to integrate with the team you already have, and if this integration at the relationship level will be ideal.
If you look at what I am suggesting, everything I am suggesting is based on a few general principles:
- Know where you are working and what your objectives and issues are.
- Know how to evaluate candidates so that there is no bias.
- Know how those candidates could be integrated into your team beyond their technical expertise.
Thus, the CTO’s job is as much technical as it is psychological, and the more you take the latter into account, the better the former will work.