Whether you’re managing developers, software engineers, or other technical specialists, managing a technical team can be difficult if you don’t have the proper experience. Managing a technical team can come with all sorts of challenges, including miscommunication, poor problem-solving, disengaged employees, poor collaboration, poor conflict resolution, and so much more.
To combat these issues, it’s important to take a proactive stance by educating yourself on the potential risks, roadblocks, and hurdles that you may face when managing a technical team for the first time. In this article, we’ll share 11 tips and tricks that you can leverage to create a collaborative, high-performing team of technical specialists.
What is a technical team?
A technical team is typically a team that operates in the technology field with a specialized set of skills that help develop a company’s products or services. Depending on the organization, roles within the technical team may vary. The team could comprise several employees or simply be two engineers and an engineering manager. Occasionally, organizations may opt for an offshore technical team to cut costs and increase efficiencies.
The roles and responsibilities of those on a technical team may vary; however, responsibilities often include assuring that local context is defined and integrated into the project, recommending and implementing methodologies involving data collection, and preparing and reviewing technical reports. Excellent technical teams will be composed of experienced specialists that are agile, disciplined, and multifaceted.
Managing a team?
Take control of your team meetings by having collaborative meeting notes and encouraging accountability with action items. Try a tool like Fellow!
How to manage a technical team
- Provide clear expectations
- Reward problem solving
- Set OKRs
- Encourage collaboration
- Provide adequate resources
- Manage conflicts effectively
- Trust your engineers
- Share customer feedback
- Avoid micromanaging
- Encourage a growth mindset
- Celebrate the wins
1Provide clear expectations
Technical team members are laser-focused and organized. They often have overflowing to-do lists and have to plan their time effectively to hit every deadline and ship every product. Providing technical team members with poor direction will not only hinder their success but may also halt production or push deadlines. Clearly defining your expectations will limit the risk of miscommunication while helping your technical team work more efficiently toward achieving shared organizational goals.
2Reward problem solving
Technical staff thrive in chaos. They are constantly innovating, thinking outside the box, and seeking solutions. As a technical team lead or manager, it’s your responsibility to foster and reward this behavior. An excellent way to reward this behavior is to give credit where credit is due. It’s important to embrace the power of positive reinforcement in this scenario by making a point of rewarding or recognizing a team member when they exhibit desired behaviors. The average technical employee will be motivated by seeking innovative solutions. Failing to reinforce this behavior through recognition may result in less engaged employees who lack motivation and drive.
Objectives and key results (OKRs) are a goal-setting framework leveraged by technical teams to define measurable goals and track outcomes. To meet these goals and track outcomes, your entire team needs to be on the same page. Technical teams can leverage OKRs as a collaborative goal-setting tool to set challenging goals with measurable results.
Fellow makes it possible for you to track OKRs as part of your meeting workflow. By leveraging Fellow’s Objectives feature, you can stay on top of your technical team’s goals by clearly recording, defining, and tracking the progress of your OKRs. With Fellow’s Objectives feature, you can also link your objectives directly with a team meeting, making it easy to review progress, resolve challenges, and keep all OKRs on track.
To organize objectives in Fellow, simply:
- Define your cycle.
- Add team objectives.
- Specify key results.
- Review goals regularly and stay on track.
When managing a technical team, it’s important to encourage collaboration. Technical specialists have a habit of problem solving on their own, meaning they may need a little push from time to time. Encouraging collaboration among your technical team will help push them out of their comfort zones while reminding them that there’s power in numbers. It’s important to remind your team of the benefits of collaboration and reward them when they work cohesively to solve a problem. Greater collaboration can lead to better quality control, improved efficiency, higher team morale, and bigger, bolder ideas!
5Provide adequate resources
There’s nothing worse than working for a company with minimal resources. While additional resources may cost more upfront, they will ultimately save you time and money in the long run. Failing to provide your technical team with the resources they need to succeed may result in poor engagement and poor retention. If you want your team to produce their best work, equip them with the tools they need to do their jobs. Whether this is technical equipment—like a new laptop or headset—or employee training on a new program, it’s important your team members feel empowered and supported.
6Manage conflicts effectively
It’s natural for conflicts to arise between team members from time to time. What’s most important is having the skills necessary to manage conflicts effectively before they create bigger problems among your team. A manager with proper conflict resolution skills will be able to keep disagreements from escalating while working towards a collaborative solution that appeases all parties involved. Being able to manage conflicts with ease is an essential part of managing a team and conflict resolution should be top of mind when determining what skills are necessary to effectively manage a technical team.
7Trust your engineers
Trust increases productivity, enables collaboration, and fosters innovation. Both employers and employees benefit when there is mutual trust. Not only will trusting your technical team members help you build and maintain strong working relationships, but it will also empower your team members to do their best work. Trust in the workplace also creates a culture of honesty, psychological safety, and mutual respect, which all contribute to a more positive workplace.
8Share customer feedback
Getting customer feedback is an excellent way to gain a new perspective. While your technical team may always be working with the end user or consumer in mind, it doesn’t mean that things can’t get lost in translation from time to time. Sharing customer feedback with your technical team is an excellent way to let them know whether or not their efforts are resonating. Positive customer feedback may provide them with motivation or inspiration, whereas negative feedback may provide insights necessary to pivot. It’s important to remember that both positive and negative feedback provide valuable insights that are worth sharing with your team.
Micromanaging your technical team members is the quickest way to kill their spirits. Not only does micromanagement demonstrate that you don’t trust your teammates, but it also hinders their success and prevents them from growing. It’s important that you surround yourself with competent employees you can trust so you don’t feel as though you need to micromanage them. Remember that you hired your team members for a reason, and they are experts in what they do.
10Encourage a growth mindset
When working in a technical field, possessing a growth mindset is a must. Technical employees who fail to operate at the height of innovation won’t be able to think outside the box or yield innovative solutions. Encouraging your technical employees to adopt a growth mindset won’t only benefit the organization but will also serve the employee. Technical employees who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenges, persist in the face of adversity, learn from constructive feedback, and find inspiration in others’ success.
11Celebrate the wins
Celebrating the wins is an important part of building and maintaining a high-functioning technical team. Celebrating your team’s performance is a great way to boost morale while your team works towards the next set of goals. When celebrating wins, it’s important to be mindful of your team members’ communication preferences. Learning how they prefer to receive praise or constructive feedback is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with them. Understanding your team members and what motivates them will ensure you can work as a collective toward your shared goals, creating a sense of openness and cohesion.
Are you prepared to manage a technical team?
Managing a technical team is a large undertaking, especially if you’re new to people management. Taking these tips, tricks, and best practices into consideration will ensure you’re able to effectively manage and support a team of technical employees.