In the present world, software engineering teams require more than just a good salary and perks. “Yes, you will obviously have to offer the standard perks to attract employees,” says Prakhar Rawat, CTO of Simple.io. “But you will also have to build a work culture rich with intrinsic motivators alongside extrinsic motivators to retain employees in the long run,” he continues.
As an engineering manager or maybe a technology leader, one of your goals might be to empower your team to become better at their job, work autonomously, and be able to take charge on their own. In fact, that is what a good manager does—he/she builds a team and makes sure it functions smoothly even in his/her absence.
If you are looking to empower your software engineering team members, here are five tips that will help you do so.
- Make Regular 1:1s a Part of Your Schedule
A 1 on 1 is a meeting that happens between you and a single member of your team who reports to you. In simple words, it is a time dedicated to checking in on each other.
The meeting can be considered a safe space for your team members to openly and directly speak to you about any problems bothering them. In return, you can let them know what you can do to support them.
Indulging in regular 1:1s happens to be the easiest and most efficient way of getting to know all the members of your team. Moreover, it positively influences the way your team works and the work they do. In fact, it is crucial to managing your software development team the right way.
Now, your role as a manager would sometimes mean you are in the position to function as a project manager too. Hence, you might want to ask your direct reports about their progress on a project and their plans for this week. This will help guide your whole team on joint projects in a synchronized fashion.
When it comes to how many 1 on 1s you should include in your schedule, aim for once every two weeks. You can adjust this based on what works well for your team and, obviously, you.
- Set Clear Goals—Both Team and Individual
Your team will be able to tap into their greater potential only when you give them clear objectives to meet. They will only know what you want them to achieve when you share the goals you have in mind. So, consider putting up the general goals somewhere public, where even a new employee can see it and, instead of relying on assumed knowledge, can perform well right from the beginning.
Beyond team goals, you should also think about individual goals—these are the expectations set for each member of your team. While the individual goals should be aligned with your business goals, the key driver here should be personal development.
It is ideal to set these goals early as it will help lay the foundation for future conversations.
Often both team and individual goals are discussed once every year during an appraisal meeting and then forgotten. Scheduling regular 1 on 1s will help you steer clear of this mistake.
- Set the Example
Setting the example means you walk the talk. And this point is relatively easy to understand and put into practice. If you want meetings to start on time, ensure you are always there on time. If you want your software engineers to write issues with accurate details, make sure you do so always.
Oftentimes, managers expect their team to behave a certain way when they don’t personally act so. When you live the example, you are thereby developing trust and the expected culture.
- Know the Skillsets of Your Team
Software engineering teams often consist of people with a wide array of skill sets. As a manager, it is imperative that you know the specific skills of your team members. Why? Because it makes your job of delegating tasks on projects and planning for personal growth easier.
An inexperienced manager will typically split their team into frontend and backend software engineers. However, there exists more nuance to these skills than just the two categories. If you know the team member who is excited by accessibility, you will be better positioned to bring along the right person into a meeting.
While you don’t have to be an expert in all the skills that makes up your team, you should have a high-level overview to understand who to speak to when you require expert knowledge.
- Get Out of the Way
If we put getting out of the way in harsher form, it would be, “don’t micromanage.”
You have got a team of skilled software engineers. If you do everything else on the list, then you are setting them up for success.
You, as a manager, shouldn’t get in your team’s way by micromanaging every decision. Essentially, you shouldn’t try to force your authority on their work. Instead, allow your team to do what they are paid to do.
Now, we understand it might be tempting to micromanage decisions. But there is one great way you can avoid it—instill a culture of remote work. If you are not next to your team physically, you will be less likely to inject yourself in their way when it isn’t required.
In this post, we have showcased a few ways on how you can empower your software engineering team. Now, how do you know if your team is empowered?
A great indicator is them being able to keep things running even in your absence or without requiring managerial interference.
As a manager, you should always be open to offering concrete and good feedback. It will help you further empower your team and push them to perform better.