How ClearHub Finds the Right Atlassian Contractor

How ClearHub Finds the Right Atlassian Contractor

Finding the right candidate or contractor for an Atlassian project is a lot harder than just matching a set of skills to a job description. It requires analysing the job description, knowing the hard skills and the soft skills of the job – and picking up on the subtle nuances of what our customer is trying to tell us they really need.

ClearHub sources Atlassian contractors for some of the world’s largest organisations, as well as SMBs and startups. Our success rate is a whopping 90% on the first candidate – thanks to a diligent process, and decades of experience on both sides of the recruitment fence.

Join our ​​Technical Resourcer, Nick Williamson, as he takes a deep-dive into our process. Find out why companies who hire through ClearHub get the right person for the job – and not just the right skills.

Reviewing the Project

Hi, I’m Nick – Technical Resourcer at ClearHub. Let me run you through how I get the ideal candidates for our customers, from the top of the process.

The very first step is to get a job description with as much detail as possible. After that, I’ll carry out a discovery call, with the customer’s assigned Account Manager.

At this point, I ask myself a few questions:

  • Does the job description line up with what the customer is saying?
  • What’s the real problem they are trying to fix?
  • What was mentioned or talked about multiple times in conversation?

To get the answers, I’ll have a discussion with the Account Manager (who was on the call with the customer), to piece things together. We’ll get a feel for what the customer was focused on in the call – and go beyond the paperwork.

There have been times when a skill or task was only mentioned once in the job description, or was put down as a “nice to have” – but it was actually crucial to the project.

As an example, a client had jotted “can train staff on Jira” at the bottom of a job description. It turned out that training employees to use Jira was the first thing one of our contractors was tasked to do – and by having the discovery call, we were able to get the right person to fulfil that role.

Understanding the project, and the true needs of the customer, are the first (and arguably most important) steps to landing the perfect contractor. And once we know exactly what skills and persona we’re looking for, it’s time to go to our network.

Luckily for us, we’ve got access to one of the biggest tech talent pools in the world – our famous ClearHub Network.

The Network

Now that we truly understand the customer’s needs, we consult the network.

The talent pool we’ve created is rather unique, because of the niche market we operate in. We built this network ourselves, extensively, and over time. It’s mostly made up of skilled Atlassian professionals who have, at one time or another, been a consultant at an Atlassian partner.

It’s also common to find former in-house employees of organisations, who have taken their in-demand skills into contracting or freelancing.

Going out to our network is very different from the way a generic IT recruitment agency does it.

Some agencies will take on a job, quickly realise they do not have the talent within their database, and go to market instead. What this means is that they take the job description you have provided, and post on multiple job websites to get candidates.

We don’t do that.

Our network is built on relationships. Because we’re Atlassian specialists, the best of the best come to us. We nurture relationships with them, get to know their strengths and abilities, and assign roles based on who they are and what they do better than anyone else.

This means that our candidates don’t just have the technical skills and experience needed for the role – but the soft skills, too.

From our discussions, we ask ourselves:

  • Does the customer want someone who can get on with tasks?
  • Or do they want someone who can give advice to teams and stakeholders?

We’ll build a profile of what we are looking for in our ideal candidate, and start selecting our top picks – weighing up their strengths and weaknesses in different areas. 

Next, we reach out to our selected candidates, to find out their availability and gauge their interest in a new project. We create a longlist of candidates, who are interested and available, and then start the process of refining it down to a shortlist. 

Sometimes, it’s an extremely quick process. If we know the contractor well and they’re currently available to work, or are about to end a contract in a couple of weeks, then we can get them onto the next job almost immediately.

Our current record is a 48 hour turnaround, from job order to placement. And transition of contractors between roles can happen overnight. 

But more often, we’ll go through a longer process.

Vetting and Assessment 

We’ll always check to see if the candidates in the shortlist have been suitability assessed and vetted by a consultant recently, to ensure they’re proficient.

This is discovered through a technical test, conducted by an Atlassian Certified Professional. It’s a review of the candidate’s ability – not just with Atlassian tools, but any DevOps tools, or agile methodologies they may be familiar with.

If they’ve already been vetted recently, I go through the report to assess the candidate’s strengths, and possibly where they are lacking. For instance, maybe they have excellent technical ability, but aren’t very articulate in their explanations.

Using this information, we create a final shortlist, and have further in-depth discussions with each candidate on it.

This call usually lasts around 30-45 minutes. Its main purpose is to give the candidate as much information as we can about the project, to discuss challenges they have faced in the past – and find how they overcame them.

Throughout this whole process, we’re also silently assessing their reliability:

  • Do they respond to emails quickly?
  • Do they answer the phone, or call back?
  • Are they professional and presentable when on a call?

If a candidate has not had an assessment recently, we’ll organise one with a consultant, analyse the report, and go through the same process.

Submission

This part is where I need to pull the trigger – and put a candidate in front of the customer.

It’s a big moment. Our selection sets the bar for how the customer judges our ability to deliver on their requirements: if we’ve interpreted them correctly in their view, and if they will have confidence in us moving forward.

All the steps up until this point were taken to mitigate any challenges the customer may have with our selection – and it was for us, too. We need to be able to put our faith in the candidate, to present and interview well. 

But people are people. And sometimes, they do strange things like:

  • Not turn up for the scheduled interview with the customer
  • Ghost us or the customer completely
  • Take a video interview in a loud coffee shop
  • Send a totally different person to the interview pretending to be them
  • Start a video call without a top on

We’ve even had a customer not show up for an interview.

Thankfully, these cases are extremely rare – but people can still surprise you!

Ultimately, it’s up to the customer to decide if we’ve done a good job, and found the right person for them.

With a 90% hit rate on our first selection, we think it’s safe to say we are.

If you think ClearHub can help you with your talent search let us know.

The best contractors come to ClearHub. You should, too.

Find the right person for your Atlassian project – with ClearHub.

Our team pairs businesses with Atlassian, Cloud, DevOps and ITSM experts. Everyone in the ClearHub network is vetted, skills-checked and ready to go from day one. We support all our clients and their chosen experts while they’re on the job, too; so you’ll never have to worry about choosing the right candidate again.

UK contact: Aaron Rowsell

Global Contractor Manager

Email: arowsell@clearhub.tech 

Call: +44 2381 157 811​

US contact: David Runyon

Recruitment Consultant

Email: drunyon@clearhub.tech

Call +1 858 304 1215

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The Cost of a Bad Hire? TRIPLE their Salary!!!!

The Cost of a Bad Hire? TRIPLE their Salary!!!!

Recruitment, especially in tech, is seriously hard work. Even just for one new team member.

Listing a job, sifting through applicants, interviewing them, re-interviewing the best, negotiating an offer… It’s a lot. Imagine going through all of that, finally hiring a candidate, and waiting for their start date to arrive – only to discover that they’re totally wrong for the job, and completely at odds with your company values.

Their productivity is lower than baseline. They make wildly inappropriate comments. They won’t do anything “beneath” them. They can’t finish a task to spec or deadline. They’re supposed to lead but their team is constantly guiding them.

Members of the team around the new hire are starting to feel unmotivated and undervalued.

Some people are asking questions about how they got the job in the first place.

The whole atmosphere is changed; sour and dark, no chatter or collaboration – just workstation after workstation of headphones and bad moods.

That, dear reader, is a bad hire.

You might think that this is a rare, or even a worst-case scenario. Sadly, it’s extremely common: 85% of organisations have made bad hires at least once. It’s depressing, for sure – but did you know how expensive it is for businesses?

Whatever the salary offered – treble it, and that’s how much it will cost your company.

How a bad hire can end up costing your company 3x the posted salary

It sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Surely this is just a “big company” problem, and not the case for SMBs? The truth is, a bad hire can infect your company deeply, not just at the point of entry. Here’s where all that money goes.

Recruitment

Good recruitment is not cheap – whether you use an agency or do it in-house. But even doing it half-heartedly is expensive; the lower-end estimate is about £2,500 per hire, and the UK cost per hire average is £3,000.

A bad hire means spending this recruitment cost all over again.

Productivity

If the new hire isn’t all they said they were on paper, then they won’t have the skills to contribute to productivity. You’re paying, but they’re not delivering.

Instead, other team members might pick up the slack, even if they have to stay on late, in an attempt to be welcoming to the new person on their team and to “just make it work”. That’s doubled up work – but far worse is that your good, solid team players are getting burned out.

Teams start to fracture

A bad hire doesn’t necessarily mean a bad person – but often there is a problem with cultural fit. We’re not suggesting that Friday beers is a culture, and that if your new hire doesn’t drink, then they’re a bad fit culturally; that’s just personal choice.

A bad cultural fit is one that doesn’t really care about what you’re trying to achieve, or is at odds with your values as a company. This can seed unhappiness in teams, and cause them to fragment into cliques and silos. Rifts can form, and overall collaboration can be stifled as a result. This doesn’t just harm productivity – it destroys morale.

Your team members don’t have to be best friends (it certainly helps, though!), but they do need to be able to work together respectfully and amicably. If not, people will start to leave. If you’re not careful, it’ll be your top performers who go first. They can often feel that they’ve had to accommodate the bad hire, and have been left to stagnate during their tenure.

Attrition

One bad hire can lead to having to make many more hires to undo the damage. If the team begins to suffer as a result of a bad hire, those not inclined to voice their concerns may become disgruntled – and quit*.

*Bear in mind that this can be a sign of deeper issues. A bad hire making work worse is usually the last kick in the teeth for some people who are already at the end of the employee lifecycle.

Client/customer loss

When quality dives, or key team members leave, clients and customers suffer. This is the final straw for any business, because it’s glaringly obvious that the bottom line is getting hurt.

Don’t let it get this far.

How can you stop a bad hire from getting in?

Well… You sort of can’t. If they interview well, but come into work like a totally different person, that’s just the way it is. You’ll never know until you see them on a day-to-day basis, and see their work (or lack thereof).

Basically, there are no guarantees.

You can change your vetting process, to include skills checks, and ask for previous examples of work. Checking in with former employers is a good starting point, but beware that sometimes a generic response from HR is all you’ll get, and it’s not likely to be a deep-dive into their values and daily output.

Also, be mindful that we’re all human. That new hire might be having a really bad time that you don’t even know about, and this could all just be temporary.

Try talking first.

How to spot a bad hire before it’s too late:

  • Skills are missing that the employee claimed to have
  • Low quality of work
  • Repeated mistakes, even after fair coaching
  • Poor timekeeping and high absenteeism
  • No ownership or responsibility when things go wrong
  • Negative and critical of the company
  • Incomplete workloads are being taken on by other team members
  • Collaboration and communication drops off
  • A noticeable “social void” appears around the new hire

How to respond to a bad hire

  • Find out if their work is suffering because they are. Can you help resolve it?
  • Are they competent, but not familiar with your way of working?
  • Are they motivated to improve?

If the answer to any or all of those questions is a no, then it’s time to terminate their contract, based on your contract agreement and legal obligations.

All that time, just to let them go… 

But for companies who need tech talent, there is a better way.

Generic recruitment can only get you so far. But a specialist recruiter, who knows the job and the people who’ll excel at it? That’s the ideal standard.

This is what we do at ClearHub – the largest global network of Atlassian, DevOps and software professionals in the world.

Created by a team of software and Atlassian experts, we take our deep knowledge of the industry to find the candidates that no generic recruiter can. We consider company culture, technical needs and your existing talent, to find people that will work to build your company.

Our specialist recruiters continue to assist you and your new recruit in their role, with a combination of dedicated project management and technical support should you run into any problems.

The best candidates come to ClearHub. You should, too.

No more bad hires. Get the best talent – with ClearHub.

Our team pairs businesses with Atlassian, Cloud, DevOps and ITSM experts. Everyone in the ClearHub network is vetted, skills-checked and ready to go from day one. We support all our clients and their chosen experts while they’re on the job, too; so you’ll never have to worry about training, upskilling, or making a bad hire ever again.

Get in touch today.

UK contact: Aaron Rowsell

Global Contractor Manager

Email: arowsell@clearhub.tech 

Call: +44 2381 157 811​

US contact: David Runyon

Recruitment Consultant

Email: drunyon@clearhub.tech

Call +1 858 304 1215

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Atlassian alternatives: tools that (kind of) work the same

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Atlassian alternatives: tools that (kind of) work the same

The tech-first world we live in might never have been, were it not for Atlassian.

Atlassian’s product family includes some of the most advanced productivity platforms and software tooling systems, all intimately linked. Every tool works together seamlessly, facilitating everything from DevOps to Payroll, and from support tickets to marketing plans.

But Atlassian isn’t the only player in the game. There are alternative platforms outside of the Atlassian stack. So, what Atlassian alternatives are there – and should you be using them?

Alternatives to Atlassian tools

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” – Newton’s third law.

This happens in software all the time, too. For instance, Microsoft’s local email client, Outlook, was turned into Hotmail – a browser-based email platform. Then Google came along and dominated the market with Gmail by simply zigging where Microsoft had zagged: Google chose simplicity over Microsoft’s complexity.

Everyone got into the email game, with different spins on the same channel: enhanced privacy, or enhanced personalisation. Platforms evolved and diverged down their own paths – and whichever one you adopted early became the one you stuck with.

Now, there’s more choice than ever – and the lines between functionality are becoming blurred. No matter which platform you choose, you’re likely going to get a great product.

And this goes for Atlassian’s rivals, too. The Atlassian stack has so many advantages (which we’ll cover shortly), but it doesn’t exist in isolation.

Read more: The Atlassian Stack: All the tools – and how to use them

So, what alternative tools are there to Atlassian’s offering?

Jira alternatives

Jira is a workflow management tool – it lets you track tasks from start to finish. Tasks can be assigned to users with a due date, and given a custom status like pending, in progress, or on hold. Jira comes in a variety of flavours suited to software development or service management, but each variant is flexible and adaptable.

Basecamp

If you work in tech, you’ve probably used this platform before. Basecamp is a do-anything project management platform, with simple tasks and to-do lists, messaging, file sharing, and task assignment. It falls far short of Jira’s personalisation and integrations – but for most non-development focused, or multidisciplinary organisations, it’s more than enough.

Asana

Asana facilitates communication and collaboration across the entire project management team, and has many similarities to Jira. It is growing in adoption, and supports agile project management through boards. It has an activity feed, allows user permissions, and works as a calendar. Asana has an internal messaging platform, and it’s likely that email reliant businesses will bounce between their email client and Asana, as it doesn’t easily integrate with email.

Notion

Notion is a super-basic but refreshingly useful all-in-one platform. Notion lets users create documents, manage projects, create tasks, and practise the kanban method – all from one place. Templates are simple, but powerful, meaning projects can be set up and run in a few clicks. Simplicity is also its biggest weakness, and power users accustomed to Jira’s flexibility and app integrations might struggle. For generalists, though, Notion is a huge productivity booster.

Monday.com

A well-marketed and powerful project management and productivity powerhouse, Monday.com promises users the simplest GUI – and it delivers. For general project management and single-minded focus Monday.com is almost unbeatable; but it’s far less flexible. And, while it can integrate with Jira, the cost alone could make Monday.com out of reach for most smaller organisations.

Confluence alternatives

Confluence is a collaborative team workspace. It’s a knowledge collection and sharing hub, where all documentation can be stored. It’s like Wikipedia, but just for your organisation. Of course, this isn’t a unique offering, and the competition in this space is pretty fierce.

Google Docs

This has become the de facto file creation and sharing platform of the decade. It is infinitely flexible: it translates Word documents to Google Docs and vice versa, outputs to the most popular document formats, and integrates well with almost any platform you can imagine. It has excellent permissions and sharing features – and it’s completely free to use, up to 15GB of data. But anyone who has collaborated in Google Docs will know how messy it can get, and live updates are ropey-looking at best. Useful, but not very slick.

Slack

One of the greatest unicorn stories in history, Slack is what other workspace platforms aspire to be. The UI is as perfect as we’ve ever seen. It comes ready to integrate with any other productivity tool and document creation platform, and it is deeply customisable without ever being intimidating. Global internal comms have never been easier to manage. It “just works”. But it’s essentially a chat platform, with extra features. It relies entirely on other tools to be useful for more than simple comms, and won’t be the all-in-one that other tools can offer.

Basecamp, Monday.com, and Asana

All three have Confluence-like features built-in to them, and seem to be geared towards marketing and sales more than, say, software development or DevOps – but they can be templated and tweaked.

Pros and cons of using Atlassian over other alternative tools

Atlassian stack pros

Atlassian’s tools are market-leading, industry-leading, award-winning and ubiquitous. Jira is the best-in-class platform for software development. Above all, Atlassian tools all communicate with each other perfectly, out of the box; no fuss, no code.

Adopting the Atlassian stack is cheaper than building a custom stack, but no less customisable. The marketplace is filled with apps that enhance functionality to new heights, and organisations can develop custom solutions within the Atlassian ecosystem. 

In terms of versatility and integration options, Atlassian is widely regarded as one of the best in the industry. And the update cycle is relentless – the best version of your tools is always being worked on.

Cons

There are, of course, drawbacks. Going all in on one toolstack means all your eggs are in one basket. If that basket were to break – well, there go your eggs. And you may find that your team prefers to use different platforms that require some level of custom integration. For example, if your dev team works best in GitLab, moving them over to Atlassian’s Bitbucket and stalling productivity doesn’t make sense.

The good news is that Atlassian’s tools are pick and mix, and they all integrate well with other best-in-class tools through plugins or apps. And if you need someone to help you get the performance you need from a custom Atlassian setup, we’ve got the world’s top Atlassian experts ready to go.

Hire World-class Atlassian Talent

Let’s help you get the most out of your productivity tools. ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors in the world; vetted, skills-checked and ready to go. To get started, call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Cancelling WFH caused the Great Resignation. Why push for it?

walking in shadow
walking in shadow

Cancelling WFH caused the Great Resignation. Why push for it?

We humans are forgetful creatures.

 

Hopping from one crisis to the next, we forget the staggering lengths we’ve been through to get where we are. We forget the chaos, and the uncertainty.

 

Cast your mind back to March 2020 – if you haven’t blocked it all out, that is.

 

The UK, USA, and most other countries around the world had either entered or were entering a national lockdown, in response to Covid-19.

 

If you were lucky enough to evade the virus, for your loved ones and friends to be safe, and to still have a job – you felt grateful. Many of us did.

 

But not all of us were as lucky. Some of us lost people to covid. Many more lost work, as entire industries fell apart.

 

For the lucky ones, we either got put on furlough, or got put to work remotely.

 

They were interesting times, to say the least; especially for people trying to work while raising children (if anyone’s been through home schooling and work, you’ll know how utterly impossible the two are in tandem).

 

But working from home, for the majority of office-based workers, was a revelation, and a revolution – a proof of concept that they could have it all.

 

Once office-bound workers could now do their job from their dining table, bed or sofa. Their commute was eliminated. They got to have more family time, eat cooked lunches, take meaningful breaks, and explore their own passions with the hours saved each week.

 

So, when that call came from business leaders to say “we’re going back to the office now” – you can imagine the response among those who wanted WFH to stay.

 

They begrudgingly went back to commuting one hour in both directions. Back to eating flimsy, overpriced sandwiches. Back to dreaming of the hobbies they had time to pursue in their longer evenings.

 

Where they once felt grateful for still having jobs, they suddenly felt resentful.

 

“We’ve seen the other side; and the grass really is greener”.

 

Returning to the office felt like a punishment. No more time for personal growth. Less sleep. Hours of your day, lost. Motivation – sapped.

 

And so, workers started to quit.

The evidence is mounting: ending WFH is driving up quits

This isn’t so much an anecdote about the end of WFH, as it is a reliable process for decimating your own workforce; if you really wanted to shed some employees, just tell them to come back to the office full-time.

 

They could be one 360-second meeting away from throwing in the towel.

 

The evidence for this is piling up. Workers would rather quit than go back to the office. 

 

Ending WFH it wasn’t just a mistake in 2021 – it’s a mistake now and forevermore – because the world of work is never going to be the same.

 

Our mindsets have shifted dramatically from “live to work” to “work to live”.

 

And there’s absolutely no good reason for employers in offices to demand an end to WFH. The majority of it boils down to corporate paranoia, and old-school mindsets about who should be doing what in order to be productive.

 

Hey, leaders: busy doesn’t mean productive. If seeing your people in person, sat at desks, doing “stuff” is your measure of productivity and success, then – sorry to say – you’re wrong.

 

Instead of fearing remote work and assuming the worst of employees working from home, look at KPIs. Look at your HR stats, like retention. What’s scarier; an hour of “productivity” lost to YouTube or Facebook – or costs reaching into the hundreds of thousands to replace experienced practitioners?

Afraid of remote work? Here’s something much scarier

The cost to replace the average UK worker is £11,000.

 

The cost to replace seniors and specialists is between £40,000 to £100,000.

 

That’s big money in a climate of seemingly flippant job-hopping, where employees are keen to set clear boundaries between work and life.

 

Let’s say you run a small workforce of 25, in a competitive industry like marketing. Your company turns over £1.8 million in a good year. You decide that it’s time to end WFH and get back to “reality”.

 

Let’s use the conservative estimate that 38% of those workers are going to quit within 6 months to a year, rounded up for easier maths.

 

10 of your team quits over WFH ending; 8 entry-level executives, and two seniors. That could cost your company a total sum in the region of £250,000.

 

So, what’s scarier? Losing 13% of your turnover to poor (and avoidable) employee retention, or WFH?

 

Why are so many businesses that can enable WFH still pushing for a return to the office, instead of leaning into remote?

The benefits of remote working

Productivity

If you trust your team, and give them the tools to work remotely, you can actually boost productivity. Working from home caused a productivity uplift of 13%, even if it’s just for one day a week.

Lower carbon emissions – and overheads

Not only does WFH eliminate commutes, it eliminates heating and powering giant office spaces. That means lower bills and smaller business infrastructure for you, and less CO2 pumped into the air for everyone else.

Better comms, better accountability

WFH forces better communication and accountability. No more “he said, she said” or undocumented conversations that get forgotten. It’s all tracked and traceable. Say you’ll do something, and there’s a record of it.

Remote workers are happier 

Research from before the pandemic has already shown that remote work can improve productivity, employee retention, and generally makes employees feel trusted. It’s a boost to quality of life, and business outcomes.

 

WFH is the future – and with the right culture and tools at your company, that future is bright.

How to nail your remote working strategy: hire Remote Working experts

ClearHub’s remote working experts have helped countless teams in complex IT, software, development and DevOps roles to change the way they work together over long distances. By hiring in expert consultants to design and develop robust remote working platforms, you can retain your best talent, attract new talent, and maximise productivity – with a remote working expert on your side. 

Confluence vs Jira: What are the differences?

working on laptop
working on laptop

Confluence vs Jira: What are the differences?

Leading software developers Atlassian produce a suite of valuable products, and probably the two most important and popular are Jira and Confluence. Both these pieces of software are used by organisations of all sizes to simplify their working environment and allow their staff to be more productive day-to-day.

If you are interested in making use of them, it is important to understand what these products are best for, as well as any drawbacks they might have. Here we take a look at both to establish which product might be right for you.

What Confluence is best for

As a shared workspace, Confluence allows teams to organise and work together on projects. This content management tool makes it easy to create and file strategy documents, meeting notes, IT details and much more. When everyone has access to all the important data and documents it makes things much simpler all round.

Confluence has a range of features that are hugely beneficial:

  • Analytics – Confluence includes Analytics that allow you to track a range of important metrics including most liked, accessed and viewed. This is vital for understanding and making better use of data and knowledge in your organisation.
  • Collaboration – A major advantage of Confluence is that it is designed to be highly collaborative. Contributions from individual team members can be tracked using the Version Control Feature, and allows for efficient and effective working between a group.
  • Integration – Confluence integrates seamlessly with other products, including both other Atlassian software, as well as third-party apps. This makes Confluence good at connecting with Google’s products, as well as adding broader features such as graphics and graphs.

Drawbacks of Confluence

Of course, there are some aspects of Confluence that aren’t perfect and might present potential issues.

  • Search – The search feature of Confluence is considered a weakness, and it can be relatively complicated to use.
  • Plugins – Third-party plugins may be needed, but you might find some challenges in implementing them. This might require you to have to create a specific plugin.

What Jira is best for

Jira is another one of Atlassian’s best known products. It is designed to track the status and progress of issues, bugs, and other aspects of a project. It can be customized around the specific needs of the business.

Jira allows you to design and manage reports, workflows, and tasks – increasing the efficiency and productivity of the team.

  • Agile development – Perhaps the most famous aspect of Jira is its Agile working, which allows workers to utilise the Kanban and scrum features easily.
  • Security – Jira has sensible and well thought out security controls. It is easy to manage user access to ensure team members are allowed to work at the right level of security clearance.
  • Reports – Jira’s selection of reporting options is excellent. It allows users to mine the data for insights and information.

Drawbacks of Jira

Some of the challenges in working in Jira can include:

  • Integration – If you have previously worked with other application management systems, it can feel difficult to integrate or migrate over.
  • Interface – Some users of Jira find that the interface is not as clear as it could be.

Confluence and Jira are distinct software packages that can both be extremely useful for businesses. If you are interested in working with Atlassian, Clearhub specialises in the recruitment of Jira and Confluence professionals. Get in contact with our experienced team today.

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Your guide to team development with contractors

Your guide to team development with contractors

All teams – established or brand new – go through changes. At times, contractors need to be brought in to fulfil a specific need with their skills. This can be a real boon to your teams, if it’s handled well and there are plenty of benefits to bringing in contractors besides hitting company objectives.

For instance, integrated, engaged contractors will impart their knowledge and experience on the rest of your team – and build an affinity with your company that could last their entire career. We see this happen often in the world of DevOps, and many of the seasoned Atlassian contractors in our roster have become long-standing partners with most of the firms they’ve worked at.

But there’s always a flipside. Internal teams can feel undermined if the contractor’s role isn’t explained properly, which can impact integration and ultimately, project success. With clear communication and establishing trust in your team, everyone can feel more empowered at each stage of the team’s development.

But what exactly do we mean by team development?

Your team development lifecycle

In 1965, Bruce Tuckman outlined a four-phase model of group development:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing

All teams go through these phases more than once. Even established teams in stage 4 of the team development process will enter the cycle again (albeit partially) when a new member joins the team – and that includes when a contractor is onboarded.

Let’s look at this process more closely.

  1. Forming

This is where everyone’s new – however experienced they are – to the task at hand. It’s a really exciting time, when everything’s fresh and interesting. But there can be a lack of direction, and as-of-yet unknown gaps in skills that need filling.

There’ll be lots of meetings, planning and questions; but the outcome should be a set of defined goals that set your team up for success.

Read more: How to set SMART goals

This is the phase where roles are established and clear goals are defined – to be refined later.

  1. Storming

This can be a painful phase – a stormy one, if you will. This is where your team learns that the goals aren’t as easy as they seemed at first, and that several factors have been underestimated.

This is when it’s time to take stock and reflect on the goals: and make things as simple as possible. Adjust the project goals and milestones, and make each incremental step to success smaller.

Gaps in skills can become very obvious at this point. Onboarding a contractor at this phase can help, as long as the team arrives at the decision and is included in the discussions. Done correctly, without stepping on anyone’s toes, this can also build morale; bringing in a contractor can boost confidence rather than diminish it.

Towards the end of this phase, things really start coming together. The pain was worth it – because it led to team growth, development and a better sense of the collective goal.

  1. Norming

As the name implies, this is where things start feeling “normal”. Everyone knows who’s responsible for what, where to go with any issues and how the process works.

The team has found its feet and productivity is high. There’s a sense of pride, and the quality and frequency of work is exceptional. These are the good times – long may they continue.

But if you take your eyes off the prize, and if you fail to monitor and check in with the team, then complacency can set in. Just because things are working now doesn’t mean they’re going to stay that way forever. With team growth and development, change is inevitable.

If goals are being met but not refreshed, a lack of direction or a sense of pointlessness can take hold. Engagement dips. Productivity falls. New hires are made to pick up the slack – but this is a dangerous scenario to onboard anyone into, not least a contractor.

Attrition is to be expected if this happens. So what can you do?

Listen diligently, but maintain distance. The team knows what they’re doing now, so check in regularly and give them what they need, when they need it – including upping capacity at peak times, or filling skill gaps by hiring contractors. Don’t spoil the vibe by micromanaging, but instead get feedback often. Keep your people engaged and keep them feeling refreshed – and you’ll maintain this flow into the fourth phase.

  1. Performing

This is it. You’re established, scaling up and performing at a sustainable level. Your team trusts each other and management fully, and successes are celebrated together.

It’s not the end of the lifecycle; because with every new member who joins the team, there’ll be a little bit of onboarding (forming), learning the ropes (storming) and getting into a flow (norming) – for everyone in the team.

This is the late stage of team development. It’s a long road to get here – but it’s well worth the journey.

Hire Atlassian contractors – and grow your team

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors to fit with your business at every stage of growth. Our talent pool is full of the brightest and best Jira and Confluence DevOps professionals, who can add value to your team in so many different ways.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

Working remotely with contractors? Head to the Cloud

If lockdowns and office closures over the course of the coronavirus proved anything, it was that working remotely is not only possible, it’s beneficial.

Productivity, work-life balance and employee satisfaction are all improved. Overheads, commuting costs and carbon emissions are cut. Inclusivity is vastly improved, with a far wider talent pool to choose from as a result.

Having the option of remote work keeps employees happy, and gives their employers better work. It’s a major win-win.

Some companies (and their workers) have worried about moving to remote working models. This can stem from a workplace culture that values interactive, live collaboration – or more commonly, it can be due to a lack of trust.

While some elements of collaborative working can translate to remote work, the trust issue is much deeper and harder to resolve. Some solutions include actively monitoring teams – but this is intrusive and creepy, signalling deep distrust of employees. That’s hugely damaging to engagement.

These are outlier cases, though – and most of the world managed to prove that remote working is one of the best ways of working, ever. In fact, many people base their decision to become contractors solely on the ability to work remotely and flexibly.

But there’s definitely a right way to do it, and Cloud solutions enable businesses and contractors to work together seamlessly, no matter where they are in the world.

How the Cloud is helping remote work (especially with contractors)

The Cloud was supposed to revolutionise the way we worked – and now, it looks like that time has come.

Cloud computing and storage solutions enable everyone in a team to collaborate, on a level playing field. With a private Cloud solution, even teams with slower internet connections and older hardware will have ultra-low latency access to powerful virtual workspaces.

This is a far cry from having to share large files over email, or relying on file transfer services. Solutions from Microsoft, Google – and now even an option to migrate to Atlassian Cloud – have streamlined collaborative workflows in a truly revolutionary way.

This is really helpful when working with contractors remotely. For a start, Cloud security is built-in. Access can be granted at a project or admin level, and with the backup and rollback features of Cloud solutions, nothing can ever really be lost – so companies can rest assured sharing their workspaces with contractors.

Cloud tools, including Atlassian Could solutions, are made for collaboration. Cloud computing and storage platforms can be upgraded to the latest hardware and software totally seamlessly – slashing IT costs. Cloud computing lets you automatically scale up whenever you need to, meaning your infrastructure can grow at the exact same rate as your business.

Remote working with contractors does pose some challenges – but, with video conferencing and good management, you can make every project run smoothly.

Onboarding

This is a vital step to working with contractors, remote or otherwise. Give them clear goals to work towards, and help them integrate into their team with icebreakers. These can be done over video conferencing apps, and in group chats on collaborative workspaces like Slack.

Read more: setting SMART goals for contractors

Make sure they have the access and permissions they require to do their work, and all the tools they need to do it, too. Make your contractor feel as welcome to the team as any new starter – and trust in their ability and expertise.

Check in regularly

Team development with contractors can seem tricky, but it follows the same principles. A core requirement for success is regular check-ins; not intrusive interrogations – but a quick “hello, how are you doing today?”.

Find and resolve issues before they become damaging to the project, with simple, understanding communication. Keep goals and milestones updated – but importantly, make sure your contractor feels as valued and listened to as any other part of the team.

Always give them feedback! Even negative feedback can be tactfully delivered to become a motivator. Engaging with contractors like this is a great way to maximise their potential.

Don’t snoop

If you’re thinking of using monitoring tools to snoop on progress, think again. Only 30% of workers are comfortable with being tracked – and that figure may be skewed by those simply agreeing to it to save their jobs.

While monitoring can have positive outcomes, it is overwhelmingly seen as a sign of distrust.

Trust that your contractor knows what to do, and build a rapport that reciprocates that trust – so that they’re comfortable and happy to raise issues with you as they arise.

Trust is a wider workplace culture issue. If it’s low, it can harm individuals, teams and whole businesses.

Getting it right won’t be a quick fix. But with the future firmly set in remote working in the Cloud, it’s one that will benefit every company adopting the remote model.

Hire Atlassian contractors – experienced remote workers

ClearHub finds Atlassian contractors that suit your business best. Our global network includes team players who are remote working specialists; highly aware and tuned to the intricacies of working remotely in the Cloud.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

The Future of Work: Reskill to Survive

The-Future-of-Work-What-is-the-future

The Future of Work: Reskill to Survive

A job used to be for life. 30 years of dedicated service, in the same career, doing the same thing. Every single day.

And that’s what we wanted.

Enough money to support a family and savings for retirement – only starting to really live our lives at the end.

That’s not what work is anymore.

It took a viral pandemic that brought the world to its knees to prove that the future of work isn’t rigid. It’s flexible, adaptable and always evolving with new technology.

And we, as people in work, have to be flexible and adaptable, too.

Skills needs have changed

A friend of mine runs a small department in a well-known national charity. We often talk about the challenges of modern management; running efficient teams and the challenges we can face as leaders.

We chat about everything; recruitment techniques, training, engaging and motivating staff – as well as dealing with “difficult” employees.

Through lockdown, we talked about the challenges of COVID-19, and how the future of work was set to change again. We talked about roles changing, skills shortages – and hopes and fears for the future of work.

One day, he asked me a seemingly simple question:

“What’s the one key thing you look for when hiring new employees?”

I was blindsided. It’s amazing how sometimes, the simplest questions can be the hardest to answer.

I heard myself give vague, waffley, nonsensical answers about the “multitude of skills needed in the modern workforce”.

I rattled on about the “importance of being flexible” and even had a take on how “cognitive diversity is a driving factor”.

Feeling my answers (and confidence) slip away, I grasped at how “motivation and enthusiasm” were the key factors I’d look for, to complement my team.

And my friend tried to hide his smile. To be fair – if someone had given me an answer as bad as that in a job interview, I wouldn’t have invited them back.

Safe to say, this wasn’t my finest hour. I thought about my rambling response for a long time afterwards.

And the question, too. But the question morphed in my mind, into something more pertinent:

“What’s the top skill someone would need to stay employable in the future?”

Many Skills Are Better Than One

As manager of the Innovation team at a rapidly growing tech company, the future of work is a topic I’m very familiar with.

Read more: Futureproof workplaces – the benefits of Cloud for remote working

But by changing the frame of the original question, I realised I already knew the answer.

Everything that I had (somewhat inelegantly) mentioned to my friend was important. But something was missing.

An article by Stephane Kasriel (CEO of Upwork) confirmed my thoughts. In it, he discusses the importance of reskilling:

“…ask yourself: Are my skills still in demand? What’s the outlook for these skills? And what skills could I work on today that would increase my income potential in the coming years?”

This was the missing piece. The one thing that connected all the factors I deemed important in my initial answer.

Put simply, reskilling is the ongoing process of developing your own skills. The pandemic basically forced people down this route – so at first, it didn’t seem as obvious – but then I realised, there’s actually a skill to reskilling. And it’s not something everyone possesses.

The answer to my friend’s original question hit me hard:

The key thing I look for in a new employee is their attitude.

Attitude is Everything

I could argue that everyone in work is constantly improving their skills. But, in order to be skilled at reskilling, a person must be able to recognise their own shortcomings, knowledge gaps and be aware of their working style.

You must have the right attitude for reskilling to work.

Your attitude and approach to reskilling are potentially the largest factors to determine your success.

We all need to be able to ask difficult questions about our skills. Especially in a post-COVID world.

  • Are my skills still in demand?
  • Will they be in demand in 5,10,20 years time?
  • What other skills should I be looking at to increase my value?

Attitude makes up for a lot of shortcomings on paper.

I would personally take an inexperienced individual with the right attitude over a more experienced counterpart, every single time.

Because, being driven and proactive enough to take responsibility for your own learning – and flexible enough to make changes where necessary – is critical in work. Actually, it’s critical in life.

It’s no good waiting for disruption to catch up with you before you realise you need to evolve.

No matter if you’re talking about contractors, full time employees, interns or CEOs – I would argue that knowing how to reskill and upskill yourself, and working to make sure you have the right attitude, is going to become the most powerful combination you can possess for surviving in the future.

And so, in answer to my friend:

The top thing needed to succeed in the future is the skill of reskilling – with the right attitude.

After all, an employee who is willing to invest time and training into themselves will continue to be a credit to their employer, now and in the future.h

Hire Atlassian contractors – experienced remote workers

ClearHub finds top Atlassian contractors, equipped for the future of work. Our global network is made up of skilled, adaptable and flexible DevOps professionals: the kind of people who never stop learning.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech.

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How to set goals for contractors: think SMART

How to set goals for contractors: think SMART
How to set goals for contractors: think SMART

How to set goals for contractors: think SMART

We all want to be successful in what we do. But to be successful, we’ve first got to define what success is – otherwise, we’re just working aimlessly.

Think of it like this; you get in your car, and you start driving – with no destination in mind. Where are you going? Where will you end up? What’s the outcome going to be?

Sure – you might have a nice drive. Or you might get hopelessly lost. Most likely, you’ll probably just decide to go home, and be right back where you started, only with less fuel and less time in your day.

But, if you knew where you were going, you could plan your journey – and get a step-by-step roadmap to where you want to go. You’d find your way there, even though you’d never been there before.

Setting goals works exactly like that. Knowing what you want to achieve is the absolute bedrock of success, no matter what you’re doing. You need to know what your end goal is, and then create a roadmap to achieving it.

With your internal teams, goals are likely to be established and well-known. But with contractors, they’re coming in from the outside – and it’s all going to be new to them. Don’t just sit them in the car and tell them to drive: integrate, motivate and engage your contractors, by giving them a simple, clear, achievable path to success.

And the best way to set goals for contractors is to think SMART.

SMART goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Each goal is written around these five simple rules. By setting SMART goals, you and your team will know exactly what needs to be accomplished and when. You’ll know if you’re on track, or if you’ve hit setbacks. Best of all – you’ll all know when you’ve succeeded.

Specific

The more specific, the better. Otherwise, your goals will be too wooly and difficult to measure. You need smaller, more concrete objectives to aim for. A goal like “launch new versions faster” can be made specific by breaking it down into separate, mini goals – like  “improve development workflows”, or “reduce testing times”.

Yes, you now have more goals – but they’re smaller. This makes every step easier to make, and gives your contractor a more actionable timeline towards achieving the end goal.

Measurable

A goal like “reduce testing times” might be specific, but to be measurable you need to quantify it. Let’s say you want to focus on reducing testing time to aid your end goal of faster version launches. By making the contractor’s goal to “reduce testing times by 20%”, they now have a solid benchmark to check themselves against.

Achievable

Realistic goals need to be set – but you might not know how realistic your goal is until you start working towards it. Sticking with the specific goal of reduced testing times – let’s say 20% was a little optimistic, and even with after overhauling your company’s testing process, testing time has so far been reduced by 12%.

That’s okay – there’s still an improvement – but importantly, you can assess the goal at this stage and scale it back to something more achievable; say, 15%.

This can be a good motivator, too. It shows leadership is listening, is part of the process and trusts that the contractor is doing a good job. Adapting to the reality of the goals you’ve set is far more effective than grinding to achieve something unattainable.

Relevant

What would achieving the goal mean to you? Why is the goal important, and what benefit will it bring to the company? This is your reason for doing it, the key motivator that you want your contractors to engage with.

Time-bound

Each goal and mini goal must have a deadline. This is when you stop, look at the results and assess whether the project was a success. Without deadlines, the work will never be finished – but make them realistic, and listen to your contractor when they give you their thoughts on timescales needed to achieve the goal.

What your SMART goal might look like

Using our example, our goal might look like this:

S – We want to cut software testing time

M – By 20%

A – Scaled back to 15% after review

R – This will lead to faster launches, and more happy customers

T – We want to achieve this by end of Q3

Or, in a paragraph:

Our goal is to cut our software testing time by 15%, by the end of September. The Contractor will accomplish this goal by [outline each step as mini goals]. Accomplishing this goal will lead to faster launches, happier customers and more sales this financial year.

Keeping tabs on progress

Set regular check-ins with your contractor – to make sure they’re happy with the work, on-track to hit the goal and to find out if they need anything to help them do their job.

Measuring along the way will help you keep the goals achievable, and you can scale up or scale back as appropriate. Importantly, it’ll be motivating for your internal team and your contractors to see how much progress is being made – and that they are being listened to along the way to reaching the goal.

Hire Atlassian contractors – reach your DevOps goals

ClearHub specialises in finding the best Atlassian contractors to meet your business goals. We understand what it takes to help businesses integrate contractors into their teams, and work together to achieve your desired outcomes. Want to know more? Get in touch with our friendly team today – call +44 (0) 2381 157811 or send your message to info@clearhub.tech