When you were starting a career as a software developer, you probably weren’t thinking that one day you will have to lead a team. However, with time, you learned so much that you started helping other developers and coming up with suggestions that will improve the code of others too. And now, here you are, leading a team that is supposed to rock. How can you do your best? Here are some suggestions:
- Know your stuff first. Before even accepting a team lead job, you should be sure you are a rockstar at what you’re doing. What you’re going to work has a lot to do with teaching other people, so you need to know what you’re teaching them. Yes, you’ll also have a lot to learn, but you need to know the direction you and your team are headed to. No point in accepting a job where your team knows way more than the team lead.
- Project management. In order to be a good team leader, you need to be organized. You need to take all tasks seriously and make sure your team members respect deadlines and deliver everything that is required on time. Project management is something that can be learned, so make sure you do this. You can take online courses, ask your company to provide you training and learn from more experienced colleagues.
- Take responsibility. A great software team lead never blames others for the bugs in the code, overstepping deadlines, or other failures. Everything you and your people are doing is a TEAM EFFORT, so treat it like that. Your success is the success of the whole team. Your failure is a failure of the whole team. Learn to live with this and make sure every team member understands it. When someone makes a mistake, don’t waste time blaming them or looking for excuses. You will be more efficient if you find the fastest way to repair the mistake and deliver a great project. Teach your team members how to do it right and help them if they get stuck. You’ll get nothing from just blaming them.
- Be decisive. When you’re a software team lead, you have to make tons of decisions. But, seriously. TONS. Sometimes, you’ll probably miss being a team member when all the problems were magically solved somewhere and you didn’t have to take responsibility at all. Technical issues, use of software tools, team member tasks, meeting times, team member holidays, and sooo many other things. If you got nervous from this list, team-leading is not for you. When making decisions, you need to have your head clear. Don’t let emotions overrule you, you need to be on top of everything.
If a developer wants to grow into a team leader, he should start working on his organization skills from the early beginning. A developer needs to be prepared to make decisions. It’s very important to be self-critical, and of course to have a sense of humor. — Vlado Taseski, Software Developer at DoxTeam
- Great leaders create new great leaders. In order to create new great leaders, you need to know how to choose your team. Choose great professionals, but, even more importantly, choose good people. Your team members need to care about each other and share responsibility. Choose people you know will release you from the need of being in control all the time. You need to rely on them. You are not the one who’s going to solve the problems. You are the one who’s going to lead others to solve problems.
- Take care of your team members. Just as your team members take care of each other, you need to do it even more. Personally. It’s really important they know they have someone to rely on. Communicate with them and find out what challenges they are facing. If someone is carrying a heavy personal burden, maybe it’s time to give them a break.
- Keep the goal clear. Software developing projects can last very long, even for a few years. This can be exhausting and many developers will lose their motivation along the way. You are here to remind your team members what the goal is and keep them motivated. Set milestones and celebrate when they are achieved. Your team members must always know that the light of the end of the tunnel actually exists.
In my opinion, the perfect software team lead should observe how the people in the team interact between themselves. He should see which team atmosphere makes the team more productive and allow that kind of atmosphere in the office — flexibility, talking about everything, talking about projects, loud music, watching tutorials together…He/ She should organize the tasks in the way that people in the team can improve their skills, and trust them that they will finish the task. — Antonio Todorov, Software Developer at DoxTeam.
Alright, so you went over all of these points and decided that you can do it. You started working on your first project. It’s all good during the first few days, but then, the first problems start knocking on your door, holding hands with the feeling of pressure. The deadline is approaching and you’re starting to doubt whether you can deliver on time. What should you do next?
First, calm down. You’re on doing good. It’s normal to feel pressured.
Second, carefully think about the sources of the problems. Usually, it’s people where it all comes from. Technical difficulties can be easily overcome. Problems with team members require more attention.
Third, you can’t do everything. That’s why you have your team members. Let go and delegate smartly. You need to accept that your team members, especially if they’re less experienced, won’t do things the same way you did. It all becomes much easier when you get used to this.
Then, review the decisions you’ve made. Think about what they’ll result in and the consequences they’ll bring. Think about whether your team members are capable of completing the tasks you’ve delegated to them.
If you don’t know how to do something, ask. Now that you’re a team lead, it doesn’t mean you need to know it all. You’re new in this and it’s normal to ask for advice from more experienced colleagues.
Finally, communicate. Communication is crucial during the whole process. Communicate with everyone on everything and be informed when the delivering time comes.
There you go, you’ve made it. We wish you many awesome projects ahead!
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