How To Manage A Team Of Engineers
It is not easy to handle a team of engineers because they usually come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives and knowledge levels. If you are able to handle everyone equally well then you become successful in bringing out the best results from your team. The common problems while handling a team are lack of proper management and lack of proper communication, and this would further lead you into lack of productivity. The situation becomes even serious when you manage a remote team because you cannot see your team everyday to manage or help them. Here are certain tips on how to manage your team of engineers:
Plan one-to-one meetings and set a day for the same
The best way to prevent employees from interrupting your work, is to set aside a particular day for them to talk with you and discuss the progress of their work. You can do this privately with each one, and as a group, so you know what each one as an individual is doing, and how far they are progressing in the group. This way you can help set their priorities, remove obstacles, reallocate resources and help the project to move faster than initially planned.
Make sure you give them the right level of instruction
You might have heard the adage “Treat people how you want to be treated”, but this doesn’t apply everywhere. Sometimes, you will have to be very clear and explicit in your instructions, and sometimes, you just have to give an outline of what you need, and that would be sufficient.
Motivational words and talks
Everyone likes to be appreciated for the work they do – right from a small child who glows under the praise of its mother, to a seasoned employee whose boss would praise him for a job well done. Most people thrive on these praises, and they will feel comfortable and inspired when they hear motivational talks. So don’t be too stingy with your rewards and congratulations. Some employees would like M&Ms, movie tickets or even a team party once in a while, as reward for milestones achieved.
Stop pointing out mistakes during meetings
Though we all know that “to err is human”, we sometimes forget it, especially if it is the other person who is making the mistake. If your staff makes mistakes, the meeting is not the platform to vent it out. If you yell at your staff during a meeting, then they will take it personally, and would never trust you again. If you happen to ever yell at them and you realize that you’ve made a mistake, then you must immediately clear it out with the concerned individuals, instead of waiting. If you wait to clear it out with them, then the bitterness in them will grow, so the best you can do is talk to them right then, personally, if possible, and apologize. Yes, yelling is a mistake and apologizing is the only graceful thing to do. Gaining trust is the first step to successfully manage your team of engineers.
Dealing with non-performers
If you happen to have a non-performer in your team, then it would be a good thing to spend more time with that person and find the reason for their underperformance. Perhaps, they have a problem that affects their work. While you concentrate on the under performers, don’t forget to keep an eye on the performers as well.
Be the leader, not a dictator
When you set out to manage your team in its literal sense, you would see little success. On the other hand, if you lead your team members, they are likely to listen to you. They want someone who sets clear, realistic goals and help them achieve them.
Responding to your team’s ideas
A good team manager is someone who listens to his team’s ideas and if good enough, proceeds with the same and if not, modifies the same. The idea is to encourage the team to come up with its own innovative ideas.
Highlighting their strengths and concentrating on weak points
Every team has members with plenty of strengths and weaknesses. You must be a good manager and identify their strengths and congratulate them on the same. On the other hand, you must not ignore their weaknesses or belittle them, but rather help them overcome their weakness, and become strong performers.
For everything in the world, communication is important. If God has given us two ears and one mouth, then it is for a reason. Team leaders are supposed to listen more and speak less. All problems arise when you listen less and speak more. A good team leader has to be a good listener first, and then a motivator and captain second.
Do not leave people alone thinking they would perform
Your team members are not to be left alone; some may perform and some may drift away from the goal. So make sure you are there with them physically and emotionally, formally and informally.
Creating rapport between two teams
Your development team and testing team must have a rapport with each other, even if they are geographically dispersed. In order to mitigate all the problems caused by distance, you must introduce all sorts of instant communication methods between the team members. Make sure there is constant communication flow between them.
Managing a team is not easy, but you can be successful by following the above-mentioned guidelines, and with experience. Successful managers and team leaders have followed the points mentioned here successfully. Hence, it is highly likely that you can try them out as well.
Interesting links about the topic:
Pictures: Flickr.com/ woodleywonderworks/ Nystrom/ Global/ Cardus
The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.