13 May, 2021

5 min.

How to Lead an IT Team: 5 Tips

The most difficult part of being a leader is keeping balance between being a team member and managing. The five tips below may help you with that.

Marcin
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CTO
Matt
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COO & Co-Founder
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Introduction

A lot of new CTOs or team leaders have problems with combining the roles of member of a team and leader of a team. They tend to forget about the “boring” management part or forget how to code.

On one hand, you’re organizing, hackathons, meet-ups and other parties, but on the other, you’re responsible for code assessment, keeping hiring morale high, contacting clients and many, many more!

The most difficult part of being a leader is keeping balance. Read this article to learn 5 tips that will help you lead your IT team.

#1 Communication

You have to be a great communicator and follow the flow of information from different departments. You’ll be speaking in front of and to various audiences. Can you talk about technology to non-technical audiences? Or explain business decisions to developers?

Understand what other teams are doing and be able to explain the role of technology to various people. It is more than just communicating technical decisions – you have to explain why certain ideas cannot be implemented or why some features aren’t a good choice for the company.

It also requires great listening skills! Listen to people’s needs, business requirements, and doubts.

Try to understand your developers’ challenges. Always provide support and solutions if you want to build a successful company!

Take Ben Horowitz’s words seriously:

As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge - Ben Horowitz.

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#2 Technical know-how

In many cases, CTOs started as engineers or developers. First, they were coding and learning about management. That’s important because they have the technical skills built-in somewhat. Leading an IT team requires a good understanding of tech.

To make the right decisions, you have to understand on what and how your team is working. What are the tools and components to start and deploy a project? What comes into play while building an app?

You have to grasp the whole ecosystem of your company. Technical skills are really helpful in doing your job and earning the team’s credibility.

#3 Appetite for knowledge

To grow, you have to be hungry for inspiring knowledge!

Do you know tech very well from your past experiences? Great – develop your managing skills then! Despite feeling comfortable in software engineering, try learning something new. Or maybe you’re lacking some technical knowledge? Try and brush up on the areas you feel weak in.

Remember to develop what you already know and follow tech trends. Read news, blogs, discussions on forums to learn what’s new. Open your mind to the newest solutions and think of ways to implement them in your products.

What’s more, encourage your team to learn & develop as well! The more knowledge within a company, the better! Let your developers carve out some time for reading tech news every day. It’ll boost creativity and inspire them to come up with new solutions!

Today, power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it. - Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot's Culture Code.

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#4 Have expectations

You should have clear expectations for your team and learn how to measure the team’s progress. Try to ask the team members about their approach to measuring effects! Ask for reports and encourage those who aren’t measuring their job’s effects to do so.

Try:

  • measuring things within your control,
  • letting devs self-measure,
  • letting devs define how and how often to measure their effects.

These methods not only make it possible to control the workflow but also work as a great empowerment. Measuring progress is rewarding for everybody!

#5 Give feedback

It’s good to speak about victories and failures with your team. Let people know if they’re doing great or bad at theirs. Let them also talk about things they’re proud of and about their worries. Also, remember to reward behavior and attitude aligned with the company’s values and goals.

What do you think about these ways of giving feedback:

  • monthly “shout outs” in a common area in the company
  • a success channel on Slack
  • short one-to-one meetings every 3 months

There are also a few rules to remember concerning feedback:

  • Try to replace “but” with “and” when you’re speaking about somebody’s work. This small difference means a lot.
  • Mention things and situations people can react on and change in the future.
  • Giving feedback is also strongly connected with receiving it. So be prepared for some criticism and some rewarding words from others.

To learn more about giving feedback check the post published by TechCrunch – “The Art Of Giving Feedback“.

Final word

Leading a team requires a lot of effort! You have to learn how to manage people, resources and time. We hope that you’ll give support and inspiration and get back the same good energy from your developers!