Team growth and efficiency or how not to forget about yourself

Here you are a team lead, son! Welcome to our ranks. I will not ask the name, all the same in six months you will burn out and quit.

Foreword

Today you have become a team leader. A huge number of responsibilities and meetings have fallen on you, you are slowly leaving the development. The beginning is always encouraging. Drowning in tasks, meetings, commitments, you find romance, you do your job well (you think so).

But no, you’re not doing your job that well. Sprints do not close, tasks flow like a river, two seniora have declared war on each other from PR, and managers have decided to go to war on you, declaring you to be the culprit of all this mess. And then the next morning, daily, and after a cup of coffee you ask yourself the question: “Are I and my team effective?”

This article is about two things:

  1. Team efficiency and development

  2. TL efficiency and development

Why exactly these topics? Because the person who will develop all this is one and the role in the team he has TL.

Team efficiency and development: concepts that go hand in hand

It is the team that brings the real increment to the product. And in order for it to do this, TL has to work very hard to fix many problems, conflicts that usually exist almost immediately after a team is recruited or you join a formed team. All people are different – hence the difficulties. One of the books I once read had the following phrase

People are more complex than technology.

According to my personal observations, and according to some studies (for example, the Hawthorne effect), many factors affect the effectiveness:

  • The developer’s knowledge of the product he is creating and its meaning

  • Climate and team interactions

  • Climate outside the team and inter-team relationships

  • Feedback for each employee and the development of his skills

You can list many and many other factors, but for me personally, these are the most significant, because at different times some team members left for other teams due to the absence of one or several points above.

Knowledge and meaning of the product

This product needs you
This product needs you

Why should a developer know how the whole product works and its meaning? The best product is obtained when like-minded people gather in the same room. Yes, the methods and paths to their goal may differ for everyone, but the goal is still the same. We are here to do something really cool, so we expect everyone to invest as much as possible in what they do. If a developer understands that his work makes sense, he likes the product, then his motivation to work will always be high.

Task TL at this point, convey the idea of ​​the product to the team and let each developer understand that what the employee does is really important.

Team climate

A good climate is conducive to highly efficient work. In a team, every employee should feel “easy”.

There is a wonderful book – “5 vices of the team” by Patrick Lencioni.

The book tells about five vices that can destroy any team from the inside in a very short time. Below are these same vices:

  1. Mistrust

  2. Fear of conflict

  3. Irresponsibility

  4. Undemanding

  5. Indifference to results

Patrick Lencioni details the steps for solving these very problems in his book. I will not attach pictures and spoil, but I will say right away – all this is projected not only on large corporations (the book analyzes all these vices using the example of a company), but also on small teams.

Task TL to be the person who will correct these vices. Who if not him?

Climate outside the team and inter-team relationships

Finally, the neighboring team was dismissed and they vacated the cabinet!
Finally, the neighboring team was dismissed and they vacated the cabinet!

On retro, you can often hear the phrases ala “We didn’t, because these stupid $ {group_name} us $ {action_name}”. Such things unite the team, since there is a common enemy that hinders everyone. Just wait … the other team is also working towards a common goal. And they are also interested in the release of the product. Why am I – no need to look for enemies. There is no need to make other teams become enemies.

Task TL to prevent the appearance of such “enemies”. Explain to the team that we are all a team in the company.

Feedback and skill development

When an employee has been working for a long time and do not communicate with him, he begins to ask questions like “Do you need me?” It’s just that I myself got into such a situation. It turned out that it was not needed, but this is a completely different story.

It is very pleasant to be needed. Therefore, any developer will be very comfortable working with TL, who is interested in his affairs at work. But there is little interest here – it is also necessary to give feedback on the employee’s performance. And improve this efficiency based on feedback. How?

The competency matrix is ​​not a panacea, but it can be very helpful in this. Team activities that focus on the outlook of employees, 1: 1 activities to develop the skills of individual employees. You can endlessly list the ways and methods, but you could find time …

But seriously, then task TL give each employee knowledge or direction to gain knowledge. Help him in development, including by setting any tasks and providing the correct feedback.

TeamLead development

We talked about the team. Now you need to think about yourself.

After six months of TeamLead’s work, development skills are gradually lost. Now you already forget some feints that you could boast of at interviews and in front of the team, more often you ask the team some things not because you “don’t know”, but because you really forgot a little. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Indeed, the TL workload in many companies is more about management and processes, so your growth direction is changing slightly – books and articles on management are beginning to replace development books. Here comes the key moment, because in any area there is a so-called “point of no return” – after it it will be quite difficult to return to the ranks of developers. What to do?

If you don’t want to leave development (like me), then there are several methods that helped me somewhat.

  1. Divide the day into two parts – Solving developer problems and managing and solving development problems. The first time will be difficult, but after that you will discover the power and power of the calendar. Of course, perhaps a few days a week can be packed with planning and communication with the business, but sooner or later the day will be divided into “before” and “after”.

  2. More attention to code review – the developer grows not only when he writes the code himself, but also when he looks and reads someone else’s code. Observation is our everything!

  3. Communicate more and consult with developers on tasks. You have real pros in your team who will definitely help you in development – learn from them. Be closer to the team and don’t make yourself an “All-Knowing”

  4. Don’t forget about development books and articles

A little tip from a friend PM
“Do not forget that you must be not only a specialist in the company, but also a specialist in the field.”

But here it is necessary to maintain a balance! You see, the specifics of the work are completely different. Don’t just go into code, just architecture and patterns. Remember that the result that you bring to the product is, in fact, the team. And in this team there are probably specialists who know better than you. Your task is to maximize the effectiveness of the team. This, in fact, is the professional growth of TL.

Conclusion

Of course, it is impossible to tell in one article about all the factors that increase work efficiency. As it is impossible to list all the practices and techniques. But here books come to the rescue, which will tell in more detail about many aspects of efficiency.

  • “Jedi Techniques” Dorofeev Maxim. Personal effectiveness and everything related to procrastination.

  • “5 vices of the team” Patrick Lencioni. The effectiveness of the teams and the analysis of the main problems in the teams that prevent them from showing real results.

  • “How to graze cats” J. Hunk Rainwater. The most popular book. Briefly about the important in management.

  • “The human factor. Successful projects and teams” Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister. A detailed book on problems in teams.

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