We continue the series related to web development business. The first in the list was "Customer Communication and Education".
Today's topic cover another angle of web development business - How to manage your web developers and build a strong team.
I am an SEO professional for more than a decade, though along the way, I've picked up many things related to web development. After first few years as SEO practitioner, I've decided to become a capable web developer. Through the rest of my career, I've managed different teams of developers as IT team leader or project manager. Via trial and error, after several years and working with many people, I think that I've picked few “golden” strategies, after started to understand some behavior patterns.
Before I continue, I definitely have to say that every team leader need to be balanced and at the same time to be very flexible. Every individual is different and some strategies might not work 100%, after all building a good team is time consuming.
Discover Weaknesses and Keep Them Motivated
Being personal with your team is “double-edge sword”, there are many pros and cons, though knowing your team personally is essential. It will help you to discover weaknesses and will help you to keep individuals motivated. Knowing your team well is important, as well as it will help you to build the optimal team.
Stimulate Collaboration and Improve Learning Curve
No doubt that balanced team is the best possible scenario – you certainly don't need “experts only” groups. The main goal should always be collaboration between team members, to be able to drive them to learn from each other and to run meetings and discussions on daily basis.
Hold daily meetings, share ideas, seek opinion, be friendly
Hold training weekly meetings, share discoveries, discuss ideas
Meet in outside office hours, run team building events
Stimulate research and collaboration
Creative Personally Needs Freedom
Most web developers have creative nature. They like freedom and get a boost when they know that their voice is heard. Though again it is all about balance, timescale and what is allowed. Being flexible, but at the same time strict with some basic rules is essential.
There are many case studies related to “giving feedback”. Though even there are, there isn't an exact prove what would work the best – negative or positive feedback. Without a doubt the optimal results would come, when you know the team personally. Different individuals behave quite differently on positive and negative feedback. It is close to logic to say that, the ideal scenario is to give constructive feedback. Emphasizing weaknesses always is a terrible idea.
Another bad idea would be to create competition between them, most of the time effect in quality of work is exactly the opposite of expected.
On the Other Hand
Team leaders can't know everything, so you should also look at your weaknesses too. Often young team leaders or managers believe that they know everything and especially in web development this is close to impossible. If some problem arise, than the first person to blame might be you. Analyze and calculate every move.
Did you find many “generic” leadership tips? Managing teams of developers isn't much different that managing team of writers, SEOs, graphic designers, etc... The key is to know your team, to understand the needs of different individuals, to know what motivates them and of course to understand their weaknesses.
Supporting and being supported is the only way to go!