Being a good developer isn’t the same as being a good manager.
Since many companies promote managers from within, many software team leaders were once software developers themselves. This is good, because knowing the job inside-out can foster understanding between management and staff, but it can also be a double-edged sword.
Management is its own skillset. A good manager must excel at dealing with teams of staff members, each with their own personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.
On the other hand, some companies hire outside managers. These new hires might have a world of management skills but less technical knowledge of the software development process. They might be great at managing teams, but they might not understand the teams’ work–whether it’s enterprise software or automated accessibility testing apps.
If you’ve found yourself in either of these situations, we have some good news for you! In this article, we’ll discuss some tips for managing a successful software development team.
1. Understand the problems you and your team are facing
Software development comes with unique challenges and as a team leader, you should understand and know how to mitigate them. You can read this operational risk management definition to help you on your way.
Burnout is high amongst developers, and for a variety of reasons it’s important to understand.
Coding can be repetitive, frustrating, isolating, and experimental enough that a whole day’s work can often end up in the trash. Watch out for signs of burnout amongst your team.
- High turnover
- Increase in sick days
- Decreased productivity
- Lower-quality work
- Increased mistakes or accidents
- A reduction in the general mood of your team–less small talk, more negativity, less cooperation, more hostility.
Learn how to recognize the signs and be proactive about the physical and mental well-being of your team.
A major appeal of tech jobs is remote work, but that can be a problem for managers. How can you respect your teams’ desire to work from their own environments whilst balancing your job as a leader?
Good communication is key. You need the right remote working tools, whether that’s software for managing projects or tools for video conferencing, as well as the flexibility and creativity to utilize them. Without these, it can be difficult to replicate the feeling of a connected and organised workplace.
Software companies have notoriously high turnover. You might experience a revolving door of new personalities, half-finished coding, and team members who need training.
You can mitigate turnover to some extent by creating a positive work environment and advocating for your team to higher-ups. But high turnover is a fact of development, and you will need to prepare for it.
Create a comprehensive and efficient onboarding system for new staff.
2. Work on your soft skills
Soft skills are a priority for all managers, no matter the industry–so polish up yours.
- Listen–talk less and listen more. How else will you learn about your teams’ progress, problems, and successes?
- Speak clearly–don’t use language your team won’t understand. Make sure communication is clear and understood.
- Empathy–be understanding. Your team are human beings.
- Flexibility–this is important in a development environment, where your team might work odd hours or remotely.
- Encouragement–celebrate your teams’ successes, and reassure team members when they’re struggling. Positive reinforcement is better than negative.
Having strong soft skills will create an environment where your team can come to you for any reason, even to admit their mistakes. You don’t want to create a workplace where your staff are becoming resentful, hiding things from you, and sending out their resumes.
3. Give your team the right tools
Developers need tools. The hardware needs to be robust and powerful; the software should be high-specialized and facilitate workflow.
This can be expensive, and it can be tempting to cut corners to save your budget.
But without the right tools, developers can’t do their jobs. You’ll end up with subpar work, frustrated staff, and high turnover.
Nobody can give you better advice than your team–trust them. Include them in buying decisions; this will empower them and put the best tools in their hands.
And expect pressure from higher-ups to cut costs. Learn how to advocate for your team. If they require automated functional testing from Global App Testing, get it to them.
Additionally, consider providing your inside sales team with specialized inside sales software. This software can streamline their sales processes, improve lead management, and enhance customer relationship management. It will enable your sales team to track their progress, prioritize leads effectively, and close deals more efficiently. Choosing the right inside sales software can greatly benefit your software team’s sales efforts.
4. Prioritize efficient communication
Software teams often work remotely with less rigid hours than an average 9-5. You might even have a global team working from different time zones.
All leaders must have strong communication skills, but communication among developers can look a bit different. Developers need uninterrupted time to get their jobs done. If a piece of information comes up, interrupting your developers to inform them is just going to be frustrating.
A good software team manager should be able to prioritize information and know their team well enough to create an efficient and non-intrusive delivery schedule.
Additionally, it is crucial to establish mechanisms to monitor remote employees to ensure their productivity and engagement. Implementing tools for time tracking, task management, and regular check-ins can help you stay connected and informed about your remote team’s progress and address any challenges that may arise.
5. Minimize distractions
As we mentioned, software development is a job that requires long periods of uninterrupted concentration. A developer needs the right environment to succeed, which often means private offices or remote working environments where there are fewer distractions.
Interruptions include random chit-chat, an influx of information, and meetings. As a leader, your job is to let your team focus. Give them privacy, control the delivery of information, and schedule meetings in batches.
Distractions can also include menial tasks that interrupt workflow. Increased automation can help developers prioritize more important things. Read Make’s data-backed findings on automation and productivity.
6. Trust your team
Development attracts a certain type of person. It’s a role with a lot of variety, a specialized skill set, and a high expectation of autonomy.
On the whole, developers do not like being micromanaged.
The most important thing you can do as a leader is to lay down guidelines and trust your team to get it done. Instead of traditional metrics like time-spent, measure output and quality. Respect your team’s skills, time, and knowledge, and empower them to make the best decisions for the job.
Effectively manage your software team
Leadership can be a challenge–especially in the tech industry, where things change at lightning pace.
Use these handy tips to make yourself a better software team manager.