Tag Archives: team

Agile Teams Don’t Always Have Tech Leads, But When They Do…

I queued this post last year when I was a Technical Lead for an outstanding scrum team at HealthEquity. The role was new for me here, although I’ve had leadership roles at several companies over the years.

A Little Background

Our team consisted of six people who had never worked together directly. We not only found a way to meet the requirements of the project, but we also did it on time, on budget, with little overtime, and quite a lot of team fun.

At any rate, the team was very successful, and its success was noticed. It resulted in considerable renown for the team. Credit where it is due: the team’s success belongs to the entire team. My role certainly wasn’t more significant than any other. If anything, it was less important.

I’ve been asked by several people how we did it. My answer, as always, is that we have an awesome team. As a contributing member, I shared some of the load. Maybe my philosophy as a tech lead within the team helped as well. I’d like to think so.

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My Tech Lead Philosophy

Top Tier Things To Not Forget

  • Principle #1: Respect the opinions of everyone. We are all professionals.
  • Principle #2: Make other team members’ jobs easier.
  • Principle #3: A tech lead isn’t the only person who has great ideas.

Also Good To Remember

  • Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
  • Give guidance by asking questions. It isn’t always possible, but it usually is.
  • Free team members to focus on sprint work by being the first point of contact.
    • I choose to address this by sitting at the entrance to our team area.
  • Encourage team members to learn by taking tasks that challenge them.
  • Take sprint tasks that don’t interest other team members when possible.

Probably Best Not To Do This Stuff…

  • Dictating solutions and stifling creativity.
  • Taking all the fun tasks for yourself.
  • Interrupting people unnecessarily.
  • Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be A (Jerk).

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Obviously, I’m not perfect in any of these things. I do find that having the philosophy helps point me in the right direction. I hope it helps you as well.

Interested in technical leadership? Start by leading some coding katas for your team.

As always, write a comment below or hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments. Until next time.

I Like Food

Hopefully this article isn’t as banal as the title suggests. “I like food” is what I say when someone in the office asks me to join them for lunch (usually).

Why?

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Because I like my teammates? Sure.

Because I’m hungry? Usually.

Because I like food? Also true.

Because want to enhance my relationship with my coworkers and build camaraderie among the group? Getting warmer but not quite. The familiarity that comes from knowing someone outside of work does tend to humanize them and help with relationships and camaraderie (and all those touchy-feely things we engineers aren’t supposed to care about because we’rerobotswhoonlyknowhowtowritecodeanddrinkmountaindewandurinateinemptybiggulps).

In my experience, the real benefit is in improvements to communication and cohesiveness. It’s in the ability we gain to understand each other as people, to know our strengths and weaknesses, to use shorthand in communication, to avoid causing or taking offense, and to just be more effective working together. Whenever possible, I like to participate in non-work activities with my brothers-and-sisters-in-code (and sometimes with others at the company as well) because it makes us more effective. Good companies/managers understand this concept and go out of their way to engage teams in “teambuilding”. This can be a dirty word in the wrong environment. Don’t work in that environment!

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So unless I have an important errand to run or previous plans, invite me to lunch. I like food.