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Why to be a Team Lead and what to do next?

Maksim Shalamov
07-05-2020 12:27
Why to be a Team Lead and what to do next?
Here I would like to share my experience of Team Lead motivation and what difficulties he or she may encounter.
Anyway, why on Earth someone even may want to become a Team Lead on the first place? Let’s dive in to some of the possible reasons:
  • I strongly believe that the one and only motivation should be the eager and ability to bring exceptional projects quality-wise (and take responsibility for them!). Thus, if you encounter a super complex project no one can (or wants) to deal with, you should be the one throwing yourself under the bus. In this situation you grow very fast but it still takes a lot of time and effort. It’s an efficient method but you may not cope with everything on the first try;
  • Sometimes people are just tired of the code-writing routine. They believe that getting managerial position is the only way to diverse days and nights. Here I would suggest weighing all the pros and cons. Wouldn’t it be easier to start by changing your project or surroundings?
  • Another case is when people think they are all so perfect IT-wise, so, they are ready to become a Team Lead. That’s okay, when communications and leadership skills are on-point. Otherwise, one should definitely consider upgrading themselves first;
  • Sometimes it’s all about the money. However, in this case, when someone’s motivation is only the money, some alterations needed. Probably, you should start with discussing your current salary with a boss first, since changing the whole career path may be way too radical at this stage;
  • There are also people motivated only by the job title. Try to look at all the implications the new role entails – you might have lost them out of the view;
  • Some people think that it’s just much more easier to manage, than to be managed. Well, read the previous passage one more time then;
  • Finally, the last reason is simply being appointed to this position. Here you may just suck it and see.
The changes may come…

So you're a Team Lead. What's next?

  • This is a job, to begin with. Being a cool IT dude (or dud-ess) does not automatically make you a perfect Team Lead, dah. You will need to reconsider all of your values and most of your beliefs when appointing tasks and evaluating results. Remember, you’re not about coding anymore. If everything stays the same for you it means that either you’ve been a unanimous Team Leader all the time or you’re still not there internally. So, take a deep breath and consider where you are on your work journey right now – that is a key to success. Otherwise, without the full understanding of your position, you are going to be more overwhelmed and undersatisfied day by day;
  • All the interpersonal relations gonna change. Now you have the power of promoting and letting go. That means you are not going to maintain the same informal closeness to the team. Bear with it, that’s just the way it’s going to be. There are exceptions, but it’s commonly difficult to be “their guy” and a leader all at one. You’d better focus on a team balance;
  • Loads of paper work and pointless meetings. My advise is not to be afraid of questioning the point of all these. Since you still have to do all the talking and mingling, find out the higher purpose of it;
  • Don’t underestimate collaboration with Business Department. You are making a product together. From now on you have to get into consideration their vision in order to create project’s architecture. Knowing the business plan will help you to schedule your team’s work, gather the right amount of people together and set deadlines;
  • You will need to consider your team members’ development in order to nurture their motivation. Their efficiency is your efficiency. You cannot be the only one to work in your team. Bring up your team’s spirit;
  • You will need to fire people. Some employees will make it, others will have to leave. Now it’s your responsibility to make decisions who falls into each category.

Some not so obvious tasks

You still may have missed something on your way to becoming a Team Lead. What else is relevant?
  • You need to find a successor. First of all, you may need to get a day off once in a while. Secondly, it’s invaluable experience of bringing up people. Don’t be afraid of being sat up. If the worst-case scenario comes, your skills will help you to find another place;
  • Project’s quality, technical integrity and feature uptime is your responsibility. Control it, prioritize the objectives and get things done. Both listen to your team and yourself in this case;
  • Your team’s motivation and career growths depend on you. Some people do not tend to talk about promotions or burning out. You will need to figure it out yourself. Focus on the key members of your team and maniacally monitor their wellbeing (but don’t forget about the rest). The best way is to divide your team into two categories – care seekers and doers. The first one needs to be attended to, the second – to be constantly stimulated. In both cases arrange frequent one-to-ones and listen carefully;
  • You’re going to be overwhelmed by the routine at first. Modernize the process, delegate some tasks, minimise useless meetings and activities.

What else is important?

  • One-to-ones should happen at least once a month. Don’t expect your team members to come to you with their problems, be proactive and ask them yourself. Set some regular synchs (especially with those who cope with difficulties at work);
  • Don’t be afraid of giving negative feedback. The worst outcome when you have to fire an ignorant employee who thinks everything’s okay. Frank feedback is going to help people get better. Remember that firing an employee (without trying to solve the problem first) will demotivate your team and cost you a lot at the end;
  • If after numerous tries and errors a person does not work better – fire them. In this case it will surely make things better for the project;
  • Don’t wait till your employee asks for a praise or rise. If they are not there yet, jot down a success plan success together (taking into account real objectives and time frame). Also, when praising your team members, make it public. People love it;
  • Cultivate knowledge in your team. Share the news and educate;
  • Negative feedback is private. You don’t need a scandal. So, get a (conference) room. Especially, never give such feedback in front of the person’s employees.
To sum everything up, the main point is to analyse your (and your team members) actions, figure your work style and enjoy the process. Good luck!
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