What I have learnt as Front-end Tech Lead

This is a short story about five areas which I have discovered working as an front-end tech lead.

I have been a lead for more than 2,5 years. I was working with teams of, at max, 7 front end guys. We were working on projects from 3 to 6 months.

We delivered projects which we developed with a great success and I’m really happy that we did that. It was a great success for our clients, my company, my team and myself.

With every project my team was changing and I was often working with front-end developers with whom I haven’t worked before. So everytime I had a “fresh” team which members didn’t know each other. I had never got the same team twice but I still think that some of the rules which I will mention will also be a good recipe for creating good atmosphere even in solid teams which members know each other for a long time.

Let’s jump into the things which I have learnt and how it helped me to be a better front-end tech lead than I was in the past.

Be True Developer

How can you lead a team if your team does not know your skills? Despite making calls with design agencies and client, creating workflows and developer checklist remember about normal developer’s work. If you are only filling in Excel files, planning sprints and thinking what will happen in the future of your project you are missing one important point:

The everyday normal view on the project.

Is your team happy with workflows you have created? Do their everyday tasks make them really want to come to work?

Develop with your team! Try to deliver a small task for the beginning. Go through the process, workflows and all of the stuff you think will work for your project. You will quickly learn what is not working and you will fix it before it will become a big pain for you colleagues. Be a real part of a team and not only a leader commanding from the hill.

Plan Based on Skillset

Trust your people and learn about them before you decide about dividing work between them. Learn about your team members pros and cons. You can detect technical skill matrix after few code reviews, in which of course you should be a reviewer. You don’t have to ask anyone:

  • What is you JavaScript level? How are your CSS skills?

Who the hell knows on which level he or she is? What scale you are using? Read and analyze code of your team and you will quickly learn, who needs upskilling, how to handle hard tasks and who can be a owner of crucial parts of your codebase.

Correct mistakes

Some errors are obvious and should be quickly fixed. As mentioned above take an active part in code reviews.

Don’t blame people, everyone is learning. And this is a long process. Provide examples, teach, give motivation. In the past you were probably in the same position.

Give field for new thoughts

Engage design sessions as they are really important. People on different levels can share their thoughts about one problem. You will discover how people can change your mindset when whole team will participate in solving a problem.

Protect

In magic world there is only one Product Owner which will prioritise and tell what is need to deliver the project. But in a real life there may be many sources of truth. Before you go to the team with all crazy ideas which you will hear, stop for a moment. Talk with business team and design agencies, and then after filtering and clarifying real needs go to your team. Wisely process all input and give relevant output for developers (provide acceptance criterias, challenge requirements with technology which can be used, plan and deliver sprints with them). Don’t put everything on developers, be like an umbrella and give only relevant and important information to your team.

And that’s all for now. Five areas which helped me improve me lead skillset. Five areas on which I am still working on everyday.

Those things helped me in many moments during my projects. I am still learning and gaining knowledge about leading a front-end team. With every project I am exploring new areas of leading. If you have any thoughts about team leading write a comment below.