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A Guide to Assembling and Leading a World-Class Development Team
By Christopher Robison
February 2, 2019
Assembling and leading a high-performing development team is a challenge that many engineering managers face. Over the years, I've navigated this task in multiple roles and learned that a stellar team is more than the sum of its parts. Here's a guide to building and leading a development team that truly excels.
Identify the Skillsets You Need
Before you even start the hiring process, you need to identify the types of skillsets that your project or product requires. This could include front-end developers, back-end developers, data scientists, or DevOps engineers. Having a clear idea of your needs will guide your recruitment process.
Cultivate a Diverse Team
Diversity goes beyond just gender or ethnicity; it also includes diverse skill sets, experiences, and ways of thinking. A diverse team is often more innovative and can offer multiple perspectives on problem-solving.
The Hiring Process: Look for Soft Skills
Technical skills are essential, but soft skills like communication, teamwork, and adaptability are just as important. Behavioral interviews, alongside technical assessments, can help gauge a candidate's soft skills and cultural fit.
Onboarding: The First 90 Days
The first 90 days are crucial for any new hire. This is the period where they get acclimated to the team culture, codebase, and project workflows. A structured onboarding process, complete with mentorship and regular check-ins, can make this transition smoother.
Communication is Key
Clear communication is the cornerstone of any effective team. This involves regular team meetings, one-on-ones between team members and the team lead, and an open channel for feedback. Make sure everyone is aligned on goals and expectations.
Establish a Culture of Ownership and Accountability
A culture where each team member takes ownership of their work fosters a sense of responsibility. Encourage your team to take the initiative, be responsible for their tasks, and to think about the implications of their work on the overall project.
Invest in your team's growth by providing opportunities for learning and development. This could be in the form of workshops, online courses, or even attending industry conferences. A team that grows individually will also grow collectively.
Be Agile and Adapt
The tech industry is always changing, and your team should be equipped to adapt. Whether it's a change in project requirements or a new technology stack, flexibility and adaptability are key attributes that will help your team navigate through challenges.
Finally, it's important to have key performance indicators (KPIs) in place to measure the success of your team. These could be project delivery timelines, code quality metrics, or team satisfaction scores. Regularly review these KPIs and adjust your strategies as needed.
Building and leading a stellar development team is a multi-faceted endeavor. It requires strategic hiring, effective communication, and a culture that values both individual and collective growth. By keeping these elements in focus, you can assemble a team that not only delivers exceptional work but also enjoys the process along the way.