Leading a team is not just about getting work done, it is also important to invest time to allow everyone grow and help the team get better. These are some ideas that I have learnt during the last few years.
Think in the long term
Sometimes we are too focused in meeting a deadline and don’t stop to think how is it affecting the team or what can we do to help them work better. We should try to protect the team so they don’t get burnt out, for example pushing back on features that are not really needed and not communicating them the pressure of the business. Also we could book time to try new technologies or approaches.
Take calculated risks
The best way to learn is by trial and error. A new tool or language can be tried on a small microservice that is easy to maintain and prepare a B plan in case the experiment doesn’t work out. The tool may not be mature enough yet or not give the desired results, and you still have to deliver the expected features to the customers.
Detect what they are good at
Sometimes we assign tasks without knowing the strengths of each member of the team, making people do tasks they may find boring or stressing. Obviously there are tasks that are more exciting than others and we should distribute them equally so the same people don’t get the best or worst ones, but we should keep an eye on every member to ensure they can work on what they are best at.
Find out what they want to learn
They may be interested in a new technology that the team needs and would love to spend some time preparing a proof of concept or sharing what they have learnt about it. You could dedicate some working time like Friday afternoons to this.
Push outside the comfort zone
Some people may be less happy than others to try new stuff. Try to find out what holds them back like being afraid of failing, think about ways to encourage them like organising hackatons with pizza and give some rewards like sharing with others what they have achieved.
Keep an eye on the new trends
You can follow lists like InfoQ or DZone and go to meetups like the ones of LJC. Also take a look to what other companies like Netflix are doing. Their solutions may not apply to what you do but you can get ideas and detect trends.
Promote a learning culture
For example have a channel where everyone can share articles or videos that they find interesting, encourage going to meetups, have regular lunches where people talk about what they are learning, propose them to share what they have learnt in previous positions, etc.
What do you think? Would you like to share some more ideas?