Three Tips for Team Leaders to Support Their Teams in the Face of Technical Unknowns
When you’re trying to build cutting-edge digital products, you’re bound to face a path filled with uncertainties. From issues like working with an unfamiliar programming language to not even understanding what the real problem is– just knowing that there is one– there are several things you’ll have to navigate through as a team leader.
Projects that involve an array of technical unknowns require careful planning and management; otherwise, your team may not be able to work through them.
In a recent post, Nick Lee, Engineering Director at Work & Co, highlights three ways team leaders can guide their teams through technical unknowns.
A team leader should learn before they communicate.While dealing with a project with unknown technical aspects, team leaders need to take the initiative to research it in depth before anything else.
The team leader needs to take responsibility to understand and enforce best practices thoroughly. They can do this by identifying solutions to the team’s problems and translating them into actionable insights to ensure that their team works systematically and doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Furthermore, surveying the community to identify upcoming trends, popular libraries, and other resources will help your team build an excellent product.
This practice also means team leaders should exercise restraint and think before they act. While facing technical unknowns, there is usually a considerable difference between how much you think you know about a particular issue and how much you actually know.
In such situations, team leaders need to avoid knee-jerk reactions and take the time to learn more about the problem before making a decision.
Talking to team members and external sources about a problem will help you look at it from different perspectives and make informed decisions.
Set realistic expectations and maintain the team’s morale.
As a team leader, it is your responsibility to set realistic expectations for your team. In addition, your team and other key external stakeholders must know and understand potential challenges the project may face as clearly as possible.Setting realistic expectations doesn’t mean technical leaders can’t be ambitious with their goals. It simply means team leaders should be transparent about obstacles and give stakeholders the information required to appreciate the team’s skill and effort.
Additionally, team leaders can maintain their morale by underscoring their trust in the team’s ability to navigate any technical uncertainties they may face.
A team leader should delegate authority instead of accountability.Many team leaders tend to handle complex tasks or problems by themselves instead of delegating the job to their team members. While this may seem efficient to you, it is counterproductive in the long run.
This approach doesn’t give your team members the chance to explore outside their comfort zone.
The more you trust the people in your team to make crucial decisions, the more they will step up to the challenge and impress you, says Lee.
Finally, it’s essential to admit that to yourself that no matter how many precautions you take, you will always face problems you didn’t anticipate. As a team leader, you should be strong enough to admit your mistakes and work through the issue with your team.
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Leading a diverse team of skilled developers through a project with technical unknowns is a difficult challenge.
Most people assume that team leaders should have all the answers, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Leadership is not about having all the answers; it’s about helping your team members embrace the challenges that come with developing new software products.
You can implement the strategies outlined in this post to build the next generation of cutting-edge digital products.
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