The secret to being a Big Swinging Developer is to be a force multiplier; make other people more valuable and you become incredibly valuable. Don't believe me? Which do you think is worth more: improving your own effectiveness by 50%, or improving 10 people's effectiveness by 10%?
There are several ways to improve others' effectiveness: tools, techniques, processes, infrastructure, the list goes on. The most direct way, however, is if you're the manager or team lead. If you've never lead a team before, or are afraid that you're bad at it, here is a dead simple guide to get you started or turn things around.
Step 1: Find out what success looks like for you & your team.
Your team exists for a reason. It's there to build features, or test stuff, or support a system that's in production. Whoever signs your check has a vision for what makes you and your team valuable and what success looks like for you. And if they don't? Easy, you find out elsewhere. There are only 3 ways to provide value to an organization: increase sales/revenue/demand, decrease costs (aka increase efficiency and output), or decrease risks. Your team is responsible for one of these, guaranteed.
Step 2: Determine how each team member can be valuable.
Remember in step one where I said, "Whoever signs your check has a vision for what you valuable"? Well, you're that "whoever" for each of your team members. Even if you don't actually sign their check, you are responsible for knowing what each person can do to be valuable and then communicating that clearly. NOTE: This is the hardest part of management. If you know what someone can do to help out and can communicate that clearly, you have it made.
Step 3: Monitor.
Lack of monitoring is the Heart Disease of management: It kills more teams more quietly than anything else. Even worse, lack of monitoring can look like so many other things. You see, one of the problems with organizations is that they're dynamic. If you're not monitoring what they need, you may find yourself doing what you've always done and unemployed because that's not what's needed anymore. Or you may do what you think is a great job of communicating to your team what you want them to do, but if you don't monitor them and provide course corrections then they could end up working really hard on something that you don't need.
If you put those 3 steps in an infinite loop, you can successfully manage teams for the rest of your career. If you need more supporting evidence, look around where you work for teams who are struggling and you'll probably see lack of monitoring, poor communication, or lack of vision.
That covers the basics of running just about any team. Next time I'll talk about how to build a really kick-ass team.
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