Today we are going to talk about cross-functional team leadership. These teams gain more popularity with each day, thanks to the spread of Agile. During my 10+ years of work experience, I worked in a team that wasn’t cross-functional just once. So, the topic is quite relevant.
Cross-functional team leadership
I won’t dwell into who is a Team Lead and what’s his/her difference from Tech Lead. You can look into that at our previous articles and "Tead Lead: basics" course. Let’s concentrate on what the traits of managing cross-functional teams are.
The most important thought you may have in mind is that you are not cleverer than different narrow specialists. You may even not be a pro at some topics. There is a fear of control loss and some doubts if your position is needed in this set. All those fears are groundless, your position is needed as usual – you are a manager and a leader. To assure the quality and velocity is just one of your tasks. So, what’s different for you when it comes to managing a cross-functional team?
Tech backlog organizing
You will need to organize the process of creating a tech backlog for each stack. It’s not important if you are far from this area. Gather some people who are professionals in this field, jot down all the issues, evaluate and prioritize the tasks. Your job is to organize the process and assure that all the issues go under evaluation and prioritization. You should also assure that the tasks are taken to work according to your internal processes.
Quality and velocity control. This part is going to be a bit more difficult and demanding. Firstly, all the tasks should be clear to you. In other words you should ask to retell you the issues in clear language without any terms and slang. Tech professionals can always explain the problem to business dep. If (s)he can’t explain it to another professional – it means (s)he doesn’t want it (or doesn’t understand the issue completely). Ask for a clear explanation so you can understand what the problem is and why something is taking longer/lees. If you want to see whether your architecture or team’s approaches are good, you may need some external specialist. Thus, you will have to find people in the company (or out of it) who you can trust with quality of approaches evaluation. If those people are out of your firm, check with your supervisor first or set a task for this specialist a bit vaguely in order not to share any trade secrets. Usually this person doesn’t need deep knowledge of your routine to understand if your approaches/deadlines are fine. If they are not, you need to take your team and discuss your concerns. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and concerns – it’s your job. The most important is to be open and hear others. Don’t try to push or demand something until you’ve wrapped your head around the issue.
Solving some minor conflicts and issues is going to be another part of your job. When discussing some crossings between teammates, for example, API or bug reports, there are some quarrels about who’s right or wrong and who’s fixing it. You need to listen to each party, understand the definition of fixing the problem for everyone, and think through the possible obstacles caused by different approaches. Then you evaluate the deadlines/priorities and help to find a solution (or try to reach compromise).
These are the main differences when leading cross-functional teams. You’re going to come to them all the time (if I missed something, tell us and we will add it to the article). If you have any questions or comments, you can use the feedback form for it or contact us via telegram.
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