The world is full of subject matter experts.

Biotechnologists. Psychologists. Archaeologists. Developers.

It’s also full of “People People”.  You know, natural born-leaders and those annoying people that get on with everyone.

The trouble is that not every subject matter expert is also an expert in working with other people.

In fact, put a room full of absolute experts together, and you’re more likely to have people hiding in the corners, or an all-out battle, than a team working seamlessly to solve a complex challenge.

Developers are funny fish

We know a lot of developers.  We’re mostly geeks ourselves.

People that love code.

The sort of kids that spent lunchtime in the computer room at school, and evenings gaming, or writing our own programs in whatever language we knew at the time.

Now that’s not to say we’re not sociable. Put us with our own tribe. Send us to Vegas, or give us a coding challenge to work on together, and we’re in our element.

But it’s hard to build a culture when everyone is unique.

We employ the engineer’s behind the engineers.  Smart creative thinkers.

Give a Slate person a techy problem, and they’ll solve it.

But sometimes, solving problems in smart ways can be uncomfortable for the people who’ve been wrestling with the problem for some time.

The tech is easy – but the relationships, the culture, those are much harder to get right.

Tech is easy

The Slate team are problem-solvers.

Exactly the sort of people that our clients would love to hire, but often can’t.

For most really good developers, the tech is the easy part.

For talented developers, finding somewhere to work - somewhere that embraces the whole person, that gives them opportunities to work on start-up projects as well as digital change in big corporates - is not easy.

Culture is hard

Culture is hard to define.

In theory, it’s “the sum of the beliefs and behaviours that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle business”.

Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined. It develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.

It’s all about the people.

So hiring the right people, and then nurturing them, is crucially important.

You know when you work in a company where the culture is good.

People turn up on time.

They enjoy their work.

They achieve lots.

They work collaboratively to achieve even more.

But when you are a large organisation which hires people based on their technical expertise, hiring for cultural fit can be a challenge.

At Slate, we’ve worked hard to create exactly this type of culture. We work hard to recruit, train and keep a tight-knit team of people. Slate people often spend a large proportion of their time on site with clients – at Nationwide in Swindon, or at Aggregate Industries, for example. But they are Slate people first and foremost.

We look for innovators, people that are willing to embrace the new tech that’s coming down the line. And then we offer our teams the chance to work in Thames Tower, to choose their own kit, to balance their serious client work with start-up projects like OrderZing.

In the last year, we’ve been clay pigeon shooting on a boat, hung out at the Purple Turtle too many times to mention, done Escape Rooms, been to Vegas, and run our own events and meetups.

We even have a Tardis in the office.

SLATE team bw-1-1

What this means for clients

Tech businesses like Google, Monzo and PensionBee have created a culture around the tech.

Though even there, developers will inevitably get to work on just the one brand.

For a big corporate that did not start life as a tech business, it’s even harder to hire and keep the best people.

Slate inject amazing people into organisations to help clients to help themselves. We are proud of our creative culture and intend to keep it that way.

We cap our teams client-side at 25 people

For us, this is really important. By capping the team, we make sure that every person has a strong working relationship with every other person. By working closely together, the Slate team have the ability to call on the specific expertise they need to complete a task in the most efficient way.

We avoid bloating teams with people “from the bench” who don’t understand the Slate way of doing things. Our teams combine consultants, leaders and developers who work closely with the clients’ internal teams, both to supplement them with the skills required, and to upskill people where this is important.

The tech is the easy part.

It’s culture that’s hard. We don’t claim to have the perfect recipe.  And as we grow, we’ll need to adapt.

But we are proud of the culture we have created, and work daily to make Slate an inspiring and fun place to work.

That’s how we keep our developers happy.

And that, in turn, is how we fast forward digital change.

If you’re a big corporate looking to hire the best, or a developer looking for a new challenge, get in touch.