How to Grow Engineers so You Can Grow Yourself
At the beginning of your leadership journey when you lead a team and the number of people is low it is doable to handle all people problems, facilitate all discussion with product and other external contacts and also have a good grasp of all the technical parts your team is working on.
As the number people grows so does the number of tasks. With more people you are expected to deliver more and your responsibilities will grow with it. The rules and flows that worked with 3 people do not work with 5 and will destroy you with 10. You need to understand that the quality and level of the work is still expected to be the same as it was before, so you have to make adjustments to accommodate this need. This means growing the people in your team and roles in it.
Hello Technical lead
You probably have a strong engineer in the team that is already been looked up to and is without thinking too much about it already coaching and teaching others all the time. If they like it and want to dive in - let them. Make them a technical lead of the team and share your expectations for the role. Here is an example of expectations I wrote to my team members taking on the tech lead role — Tech lead role
Just assigning a role and sharing the expectations is not enough. At first you have to work more on making the role a success. This means a lot of different things to consider:
- Have a regular (like quarterly) discussions about what you expect from them in the broad picture and ask them to fill in the details.
- Include them into conversations with other tech leads so that they have a support group where they share ideas and discuss problems.
- Plan their tech work. This is something that can be challenging when not done well. With their role they should have a planned time to execute it. It is very easy to push them to do the regular feature development as they are very good and productive at it. Doing so is shortsighted and beneficial only for the short term. Allocating dedicated time for doing the technical vision work will give answers and benefits with a longer timeframe. If you are not dedicated to create and prioritise this time then creating a tech lead role is bound to fail sooner or later.
If implemented correctly and supported as needed, sharing out roles in the team among people will allow higher quality work. Everyone can focus and work on something in depth and make their work valuable. Keeping all the roles to yourself will bring on lowering the quality, single point of failure and eventually a proper burnout. Grow your people into new roles so you can grow in yours.