Mom, I’m a Team Lead: 10 Tips for Leading a Team

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 Deal with Team Issues First

Along with the promotion, the beginner team lead receives new challenges. Now he is responsible for keeping the bosses happy and the team motivated and productive. And for this you need to juggle a lot of tasks – from the routine distribution of responsibilities to resolving acute conflicts.

How not to give up at the start? About this in the book “Mom, I’m a team lead!” writes Marina Pereskokova, who led teams at Yandex for 7 years. She went from an ordinary employee to a manager – and tells how to grow from a novice manager to a strong leader.

The fun part has been recorded.

Deal with Team Issues First

Imagine that your employee is losing motivation, but he continues to work somehow. At the same time, a “burning” project piles on you, and you plunge headlong into it, because you urgently need to write a code or draw a design. And forget about administrative matters. A month later, your demotivated employee leaves, and you still don’t understand what the reason is.

As a result, you are left with a “burning” project, the tasks of a departed colleague and the need to look for a new person. There are not enough working hands to close the holes, and you again take up design tasks.

This is a classic problem for novice IT executives. It is easier for them to do tasks themselves than to supervise the work of others. But if you have grown to a team lead, get used to putting in the first place the questions that affect the effectiveness of the team. Close individual tasks later.

# 2. Don’t be afraid of competition

If a tough specialist has grown up in a team who can compete with you, there are two lines of behavior:

Wrong: get scared and show who is in charge, or try to get rid of an employee.

Correct: be happy for yourself and your colleague, and then decide what to do next. For example:

  • Leave it as it isIf the employee is not interested in promotion, let him continue to work in the current position. Not every IT specialist wants to be in management, even if he is 10 times more productive than his colleagues.
  • Give a person a new area of ​​responsibilityFor example, give a larger project or attach trainee.
  • Promote both the employee and yourselfDoes your colleague have the knowledge and desire to take your position? This is a sign that you need to go to the leadership and ask for a new position for yourself. Argument that you now have a good successor so you can scale up.

Don't be afraid of competition

# 3. Don’t be silent about problems

A valuable skill of a team lead is the ability to explain to the management what difficulties the team has.

Let’s say that in the middle of a project you realize that the term of its implementation will increase several times. There are two strategies available to you:

unsuccessful – trying to heroically fit into the deadline

successful – explain to management why the deadline is shifting and what is your action plan

If the project is not urgent, your deadline will be extended. If it is already on fire, resources will be added.

Sometimes a team lead has to give up projects altogether. For example, when a team is busy and you are presented with a new urgent task. If you understand that employees will not pull it, there is no need to go for a feat – your fear of saying “no” will negatively affect the state of the team.

# 4. Share tasks

To successfully manage your time, delegate responsibilities to employees.

To whom and how to trust business:

  • Make sure that the new feature is within the capabilities of the person, otherwise he will bombard you with questions.
  • Break the task down and clearly outline the deadlines and criteria for successful completion.
  • Determine how the colleague will benefit from the new responsibility. For example, a bonus, a salary increase, or a promotion.
  • Publicly assign an employee to be in charge. Otherwise, he may not be taken seriously – and one day he will hear from colleagues: “Who are you anyway? We will only listen to the leader. “
  • Entrust a person to resolve all controversial issues without your approval.
  • Publicly emphasize that the success of a project is the work of a specific employee. Your contribution as a leader is clear to everyone. But if you keep a successful colleague in the shadows, he will leave to seek recognition in another company.

# 5. Protect your team

The team lead should be a defensive wall between the team and senior management.

First, cover your employees in conflicts

The bosses are a priori in a strong position, and the subordinate is in a weak position. Because a top manager after a collision with your colleague will not worry – the situation will not affect his career and status. But for an employee, a conflict can develop into a threat of losing his job.

Second, don’t let the team know about all the issues

They don’t need to know about a hypothetical budget cut for a project. Or that they are trying to blame you on new voluminous tasks, but you refuse. Or that in some of the departments of the company layoffs are planned. There is no need to stress people from a situation that may not happen.

# 6. Help your employees grow

Before starting to develop, a person must understand where he is now. Explain why he occupies this particular place in the company, what results are expected from him and what he lacks.

Employees must understand what system they are assessed by. For example, make a list of the skills for each specialization that a person must master in order to get a certain salary or position. And once every six months, together with a colleague, check the list – whether he has raised his level and can count on an increase.

In parallel, give your employees the opportunity to test their strengths in something new. For example, if a person wants to become a leader in the future, give him a more complex project and increase his area of ​​responsibility. Or offer to share your knowledge. For example, speak at IT conferences.

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# 7. Think over the load

Distribute tasks so that each person has the optimal amount of work for him, but at the same time, the team can close all parts of the project together.

  • Do not force employees to do what they don’t like or know how, – good ideas are rarely born byFid out what tasks the person does well. An employee should not be afraid of the situation “you were hired to work for money, so do what they say.” For example, some people like complex tasks with fuzzy goals – they like the opportunity to come up with unusual solutions. Others find it easier to complete tasks that clearly define the inputs and outputs.
  • Set up communication, so that the project does not stall when one or two employees “drop out” from it.Review completed tasks, document work, arrange group discussions. And it is desirable that each specialist has a “backup” who can take his place.
  • Relieve top employees from the obligatory routine, if it makes them uncomfortable.One “star” specialist can replace several mediocre ones. Therefore, your task is to create the best conditions so that a talented employee does not go to competitors and is satisfied with the situation.

# 8. Be generous with praise and criticize carefully

A key rule of positive feedback is to praise people for their day-to-day work. Don’t wait for the team to close a cool project to say thank you. High-quality performance of current tasks is already a reason to thank the employee.

When it comes to criticism, stick to 3 rules:

  • Criticize in privateAn exception is situations when it is important to show the team what actions are unacceptable.For example, a developer appears in the team who does not openly follow the plan, does not focus on common solutions and does everything at his own discretion. In such a situation, the silence of the team lead is a sign of agreement with the employee’s behavior. It can cause discontent among colleagues: “Do I want to work in a team where I can get away with this?”.
  • Criticism must be substantiatedPrepare examples of person’s failures with evidence where there were mistakes. If you criticize in the style of “I don’t like your approach to work” without explaining the reasons, it is better to first sort out the personal attitude towards the employee.
  • Help me learn from the fakapsSuggest to come up with an action plan to avoid similar mistakes in the future. For example, take training or work with a mentor.

# 9. Fight for valuable employees

If a specialist wants to leave, do not take it as a betrayal – it is better to try to convince him to stay.

When it is reasonable to try to hold on to a colleague:

  • A person was offered an offer with a higher salary – and he thinks about it.If you cannot interrupt this amount, because, in your opinion, the level of the employee does not answer her, offer an alternative. For example, a colleague will take on more responsibility or start learning new skills. And if successful, you will raise his salary.
  • The employee wants to change the scope, but is not confident in his abilities.Arrange temporary care. Let him take a break or try to get a job with another company. If possible, wish him luck. If not, return to the team. At the same time, the person will understand that working in your company is a deliberate choice. And you will increase your confidence.

# 10. Fire on time and tactfully

Each team lead has a need to fire people himself, because no one is perfect. Therefore, it is important to learn to say goodbye on time, with the least negative upset for both the employee and the team.

Be sure to fire the person if he:

  • Doesn’t perform tasks regularly.
  • Often conflicts with colleagues and destroys team atmosphere.
  • Shifts the blame for his failures to others, posing as a victim. For example, “I didn’t make a project because the designer didn’t send me a layout.”

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How to fire an employee:

  • Separate the person from their work and explain mistakes“We fire you because you irresponsible ”- bad reasoning. “We are firing you because you approached the task irresponsibly and made technical bugs” – more reasonable.
  • Agree on how the employee will complete the remaining termKeep in mind that he will be demotivated and ineffective, so it is better to let him go faster.
  • Think about how to tell the team that a coworker is firedLet the person leave with dignity. For example, he may say that he is tired of work or wants to find a new one.

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