Starting as a new technical lead – Shaping a Team

Congratulations! Someone has made the wise decision to hire you as the new technical lead. It is an exciting time. You start in a new environment, will be working with a new team and maybe even have to learn new technologies along the way. This can be quite challenging. In the first article I wrote about introducing change. In this second article I want to share my personal views on shaping great teams.

As team lead, there are certain values that are just part of me and they way I think about leadership. Fortunately, in JDriven I found a company that matches my values step by step. These values are #commit, #develop and #share. In this article I want to go into some of the values that I consider important to create a great team.

Sharing Knowledge and Developing

I consider sharing knowledge one of the most important values. Teams consist of people with different experience levels and backgrounds. It should be everyone’s goal to help each other grow and develop.

You can share knowledge in many ways. Some examples are pair programming, help troubleshooting/debugging, collaborate on a design or technical sessions or writing articles. By doing this we grow as a team. Where one gains technical skills the other gains leadership skills or new insights. Also don’t forget that even experienced architects can learn about new technologies from new programmers. Asking for help from others also shows that you’re not some all knowing dictator and one man team.

Working on complex projects is a team effort that benefits from actively helping each other.

Committing

This one is interesting because it is a double-edged sword. Committing to developing your own skills enables you to help others by sharing your knowledge. So when you encounter new technology you can put extra time and effort into learning it. For some (like myself) working with technology is more of a hobby anyway. Showing this commitment can bring new energy and help motivate the team.

But there is a downside. You have to prevent becoming a one man team that doesn’t know when it is time to rest. This can introduce some big problems in the team.

  1. It can burn down a team that tries to match your effort;
  2. You can eventually find yourself lead of a team that consists only of yourself;
  3. Team members stop being proactive and start relying on you for every task, effectively making you a huge impediment for the team.

Complimenting

Giving a compliment is something that doesn’t come natural to a lot of people. At least in the Dutch culture, honest compliments don’t come by often. Even so it is a skill worth mastering.

I had the honor of working alongside multiple high potentials. They quickly grew into leadership roles. If this is you than there is a chance that you forget that every year new people join our field. Some of them may already be looking up to you for guidance and endorsement.

If you are in a leadership position, try giving them a small honest compliment when you really feel that they accomplished something or impressed you. It will surely motivate them even more.

So what makes a good compliment? It should be honest and appropriate. You wouldn’t compliment an adult for tying his shoelaces but you would praise a child for doing the same thing for the first time. A compliment at the right time can bring a lot of positive energy and engagement in a team.

Conclusion

IT is an very broad and fast paced technology field. Projects are often complex consisting of a multitude of technologies that are impossible to cover on your own. Lead by example by actively sharing knowledge and committing to learning, but prevent becoming a one man team.  Try to endorse people by giving them an honest compliment if someone does a good job.

I believe that #sharing, #developing, #committing and #complimenting are values that will help to build a great team that has a fun time and performs well.

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