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Advice for new Software Dev Team Lead

By zaq42 ·

I've recently been promoted to lead a team of 10-12 software developers spread across the Southeast. I've had similar responsibilities prior, but this one presents a new challenge. The team consists (primarily) of the stereotyped programmers: introverted (sp) and preferring to work alone (hey, count me in here as well). Combine that with the fact that our project-based consulting business is tough with the slow economy, and you can understand the motivation of the team. I want to improve that. I cannot change many external factors, but I can help treat the symptoms.

What advice can you give me to help increase motivation and job satisfaction for the team? They don't respond to many requests for information, so it is all on me todo things for them. I'm presently matching their training requests with our new business forecast. Any other ideas or tips are very much appreciated! If you're a developer, what would motivate you?



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It 's going to take time and earning it.

by PM Grrrrl In reply to Advice for new Software D ...

There is no quick-win with this crowd. It's going to take time and your perseverance. I have the same kind of group to work with, even though I'm not the team lead here.

I let them be the experts in their area, which means they have to give me their own estimation of effort on new requests. I work with them to prioritize work loads.

I try to make them understand I'm their advocate with requestors.

I praise 1,000 times more than I question or scrutinize. I try to manage the individual,and give the person what they need from me. Some need assurance, some need to be revered, some need to be carefully guided to the goal.

The John Maxwell books on leadership & teamwork are truly a MUST read for any one in a leadership position. These will help you out A LOT in your dealings with this group, and as a personal growth opportunity too.

Some easy ideas are to bring them good coffe often, goodies, and fun things.

In our group they have a little inside joke about a monkey being able to do their job, and call HARD things "monkey work". I brought in a beany monkey for them to slam when frustrated. They got a kick out of that.

Connect with them on a personal level as much as you can (and still be professional). Observe them as a group and see what their internal dynamic is.
If there is one that is their unofficial leader, you need to be closely tied to that person.

I prefer to work in a democracy than autocracy, so I am always soliciting their feedback as much as possible instead of imposing things from a distance.

Happy hours are good if they don't have to pay all the time.

That's all I can suggest in a couple minutes.

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My experience......

by Burkey In reply to Advice for new Software D ...

I've only been leading a team for a little over two years now. I have anywhere from 3-4 jack-off-all-trades working for me at any given time depending on the flux of work we have on our plate. We do everything from web dev. to security to vendor mgmt. to partner systems integration.

My exprience is that I really have to figure out what motivates each person individually. This is easier for me to do with only 3 guys working for me. With one guy it's comp. time, with another it's recognition.I just sit them down on a regular basis and ask them what would help them be happier and more productive. I try to get all that I can for them/us without sacrificing company priorities.

Some of the little things I do are taking the team out to lunch (we're big eaters), helping champion causes that are important to them no matter how small, and including them in on the business side of the house and the decision making process as much as possible. I guess the real question is to ask your folks what they need/want from you.

The fact that you're concerned about doing well, you're wanting to do right by your team and you're posting this to a message board shows that your heart is in the right place and you have to remember that. You'lldo fine. I'd be interested in hearing how it goes.

Scott Burkey

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