Kurzor Stories #4: A Lesson from a Billionaire

3 minutes read

This story is about how we succeeded in finding a superstar developer, who later almost cost us serious money, and how a talk from Czech’s self-made billionaire helped us never to make the same mistake again.

Brain in question

A couple of years back, we had a client from Great Britain. It was a specialized tech agency, that was an established player in London, working on exciting enterprise-level projects.

Whenever they required a junior dedicated developer from us, we knew they meant rather experienced medior and better. Such high was their standard, but we loved the challenge!

Needle in a Haystack

One day a request came for an experienced senior. So I went out to hunt for a superstar. Lucky for us, one was just made available and referred to us by a common friend. Bingo!

The guy was a stereotypical tech wizard. Small, thin and shy but with vast programming skills. The client was impressed by how many daunting traps in their legacy code he solved in the first two or three months. Our confidence in providing the top talent grew.

Then came a day when he was late for a daily standup by an hour. Not a good thing, but hey, who was never late? We didn't think much about it and continued business as usual.

Troubles with the Superstar

During the next couple of months, he started coming late more often. Then he vanished for the whole day. Finally, he turned off his phone and stopped responding for a whole day during an important release, missing it. We were screwed.

Even though he became increasingly unreliable, there was no one else with his level of expertise to deliver the project. There was a hefty contractual penalty for missing the release, which our client was kind enough to split in half with us.

Talk that Changed our HR

We were depressed by such a bad choice and thought about how not to make the same mistake again. At the same time, we were invited to a private talk by a self-made Czech billionaire on a topic of strategic management. We figured this person must know a thing or two how to put together a winning team.

We were mesmerized by the talk, and it changed our business forever. He said that in order to manage his people, he had to understand them better than their spouses did. But how could you do that?

His answer was through psychometric testing. Not just oversimplified methods like MBTI, but a deep understanding of his worker's personalities, motivations, aptitudes, and skills. This allowed him to always have the right people in the right places. Whenever he hired someone important, this test was an essential piece of information.

There are several big players providing psychometric testing. Safe choices are, for example, Thomas, Aon, or SHL. We selected one of them, took our most senior developers, and put them through this new test with great expectations. A consultant came to present the results, and as she was explaining our worker's behaviours, we had one aha! moment after another. This was it!

Hollywood Happy End

Since then, there is no guesswork in assembling a team from the right people. We're sure our dedicated developers will integrate well within the client's teams and be at their peak productivity, making them pull request machines - which are exact words used in a developer review by one of our clients :)

What happened with the original client? Luckily, there was a very solid business relationship, with several productive developers with them after the failed case. In the end, the client even paid off a transfer of one of the dedicated developers to work directly for them since he became such an important person for the company. Truly happy ending.

P.S. If you need help with finding some web development superstars for your team, feel free to send me a message at peter@kurzor.net.

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