When I first became a tech manager it was an exciting time, I knew it would be a challenge and was ready to go! I quickly realized management is not something a two-day training course can really prepare you for but I had one thing going for me, I knew I wanted to be a manager. I made mistakes and was certainly naive in situations but I was learning and gaining experience at every opportunity. Looking back over the years certain areas stand out that I believe are needed to be a successful tech manager.
We’re not short on articles listing the attributes of a good manager/leader, each has similar themes including communication, honesty, transparency, humility, etc. Nothing wrong with these and I believe they are essential to the success of any manager. I want to look at a few others, some are personal traits while others are more practical… Continue reading
Imagine being in a team when the manager gets you all together to present a plan for a new project starting in a few weeks. It doesn’t have to be a software project, it could be anything. The plan includes the vision for the project, timescales, and people’s names against areas of work. After a run through of the plan, the manager closes the meeting without an opportunity for input from the team. Maybe it’s not too difficult to imagine! It’s a shame, one, because this is typical of many teams and two, there is a manager who is clearly not part of the team. The effects may not be visible until it’s too late.
This approach has many negative effects on the team that could become serious issues. It creates an atmosphere in the team that does little to promote openness. This can be put down to the attitude… Continue reading
We all have needs and many of these are unique, this is what makes working with people intriguing. Some needs are obvious, others are closely guarded secrets, and more we don’t even know ourselves! As leader’s we have to make every effort to understand the needs of the people in our teams and adjust our approach to meet those needs. I will use Autism and ADHD as an example here as I’ve had a steep learning curve in this area over the last couple of years. These could be considered quite extreme needs compared to others but we can still approach these in a similar way.
The first challenge is recognising there is a need! For those who are not open about their needs, we have to spot them, which makes observation key. Is someone acting out of character? Are you seeing unexpected responses to questions? Is anyone uncomfortable in… Continue reading
The desire to praise people or teams should be firmly rooted in the mind of every leader. When someone does good work or puts extra effort in for the team it feels natural to praise them for it. I wouldn’t want anyone to think their effort has gone unnoticed. HBR’s blog – The Easiest Thing You Can Do to Be a Great Boss – focuses on recognising great work. Their survey results show giving praise improves the “Boss-Employee” relationship, boosts morale, and improves job satisfaction. I couldn’t agree more and believe that giving praise in part of what makes teams stronger. That was until…
…I came across the following while reading Lean Enterprise (p222):
Dweck’s work shows that if we reward people for the effort they put into solving problems that they find challenging, it shifts them towards a growth mindset. If, in contrast we praise and reward people for… Continue reading
Over the years I’ve been part of many teams, both as a developer and leader, some teams worked well, others not so. There can be many reasons why teams struggle, some of these are clearly visible while others are more difficult to identify. Covering all the technical skills in the team goes without saying, but there is another important ingredient to take into consideration – the personality mix! The wrong mix can cause problems.
When I think back to the teams that worked well the first thing that jumps out is the people I worked with, they made it memorable, and enjoyable! Even when the pressure was on the camaraderie in the team helped us work for each other. The teams I’ve been in that lacked that togetherness struggled because there were clashes and disruptions amongst individuals at a time when we need to be united. Different personalities can affect… Continue reading
How often do you go to conferences? Going to 2 one day conferences in a single year is my record! Although there are hundreds of tech conferences each year we often don’t get the chance to go to everyone we would like. On the positive side, most of the talks are recorded and shared online creating an opportunity for teams to watch the best talks together!
Of course, there are many benefits to attending conferences than simply watching the talks. They are a great place to network, catch up with friends and meet new ones! The live social media exchanges during the day or a particular talk can be entertaining too. You obviously miss out on the community feel by watching a talk online after the event, but the talk material is still there giving the chance to learn.
Even though talks are shared online it can be difficult to… Continue reading
Regular retrospectives are essential for continuous improvement, but they can get a little tedious if the same format is constantly used. Having variation in location and structure helps to create some interest and hopefully a bit of fun! There are various places to look for ideas, here are a few I use:
- Fun Retrospectives
- Retrospective Exercises Toolbox
- Retrospective Techniques for Coaches, Scrum Masters, and Other Facilitators
For a recent retrospective, and as we’re in the Christmas season, I wanted to have a festive theme to set the mood. I’d come across the Many Faces of Jack Sparrow idea, which I really liked and with a small change came up with – Many Faces of Santa.
This is the board we started with (only a few searches to find the images):
Everyone could see the board as they came into the room which aroused curiosity and a few smiles. The… Continue reading