Development Team Leadership : First Steps Part 2

Following from Part 1 of my Development Team Leadership hints, I’d like to share a few more pointers to those starting out.

Being Nosy

You’re not being nosy, it’s your job to be involved in everything that’s going on around you, inside and on the periphery of your team.

You will be asked questions at some point about what the members of your team are doing, and you should know the answer.


Chances are you will be doing code reviews at some level, formally or informally, and chances are that at some point you’ll spot something that really went off on a tangent from what should have been implemented.  This can often be headed off at the pass by being proactive keeping your eyes and ears open.

  • Dev A to Dev B : how do you add a new Page to our web app?
  • Dev B to Dev A : do XYZ.
  • Lead to Dev A : It’s important that you understand how to do that, but is there a particular reason you want to know that right now?  You need to edit an existing page this sprint.
  • Dev A : Oh…

This scenario has proven to be quite common, particularly with new team members who may not know their way around the project.  Dev A asked a sensible, albeit slightly misguided question, Dev B gave a sensible answer, and the Lead put them back on the right track, it might be earwigging, but they’ll thank you all the same.

Nosy.jpg

Delegation

Delegation is a skill in it’s own right, as mentioned in part 1, you can’t do everything; it follows that you’ll need to delegate in order to achieve this.

Everyone has their own strengths, but building an all-round team is an important part of your role, if you only assign tasks that you know each team member can already do without any friction then they won’t grow and you may end up with a ‘siloed’ team.

You need to ask yourself a few questions before delegating:

  • Who knows this one best and what are they currently working on;
  • Who doesn’t quite know this one, but feasibly could learn within the deadline; bearing in mind that in order to do this will likely take resource from other team members.

Building an all-round team that can take on anything you throw at them is over time closely linked with how you choose to delegate work, you’ll want to bear in mind the ‘single point of failure’ factor in this and ensure that you have as much cross-pollination of skills as you can.

Sometimes you can’t afford to push people out of their comfort zone and you may need to just get the job done, but it should always be a consideration that if your team aren’t pushed, they aren’t learning and will eventually stagnate.

Keep Calm

Sometimes things will go wrong and at these times it’s imperative to :

  • weigh up your options, pros and cons, what might happen, repercussions;
  • come up with a plan;
  • delegate (see above).

…and above all keep calm.

The Wolf in Pulp Fiction does all of this, (hopefully you’ll never been in this particular scenario!), he has a plan, covers the edge cases, and delegates, all while keeping calm.

Wouldn’t really recommend the tone, but the sentiment is the same.  He was brought in to solve a problem, so that’s what he did.

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