Building a stronger software engineering team requires leaders to continually nurture and empower their employees. Leaders need to strengthen their team members’ skill sets to tackle complex challenges and provide a clear track for career progression, while still ensuring that their work aligns with the goals of the business.
Leading by example helps accomplish many of these goals, but harnessing team members’ individual strengths takes time and consistent mentorship. This begs the question: How do you build a strong engineering team, and what do leaders need to know to do so?
Reward People with Great Attitudes
The first step is to reward the best people â€“ and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best coders. A technical skill set is not the only thing that dictates how a person performs at their job. Instead, look for people that have a great attitude, have an eagerness to learn and are strong team players. This leads to numerous benefits. As research published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral ScienceOpens a new window found, workplaces that are characterized by team positivity lead to more productivity.
A brilliant engineer that can’t work well with their team will be less valuable than a highly competent engineer that’s eager to learn and help their colleagues with projects. Therefore, attitude and collaboration skills are essential to look for when rewarding or promoting from within. A great attitude will help with the overall culture of the team and help team members get along and work more harmoniously.
Discover What Motivates Team Members
As a leader of the engineering team, it’s my job to help learn what motivates individual team members and what their passions are. Because of this, it’s important to talk with team members 1:1 whether biweekly or monthly, so that you can get to know them, find out what challenges they have and what aspects of their work they’re most enjoying. These meetings are imperative, as evidenced by a Harvard Business Review Opens a new window study, which discovered that employees who get little to no 1:1 time with their managers are four times as likely to be disengaged. A clear and open communication channel must be developed so that team members feel comfortable sharing that information.
I’ve also found that providing a clear career progression path and making sure that team members understand how their work is impacting the organization go a long way. My role is to find out what situations excite people and the environments they best work in, so that they are enabled to do their best work. Then you can align projects with what excites team members and provide them with the complementary toolsets and technology.
Educate and Empower Individuals
Ensuring you have a balanced team with diverse backgrounds and skillsets is vital. The best way to nurture employees is by providing them with education and empowerment.
It’s proven that empowerment impacts the engagement of the team, but it also impacts productivity. A study from Zenger FolkmanOpens a new window found that only 4% of employees are willing to give extra effort when empowerment is low, but 67% are willing when empowerment is high. Education is also just as important, since learning new skill sets is a strength, and it helps team members grow stronger and more talented at their job. Education leads to further empowerment not only to the individual but also the team since that individual can teach their other team members what they’ve learned, further spreading their knowledge.
When you’re looking to build a high-quality engineering team, there are numerous approaches you can take. The best way to begin is to look for strong team players and find out what makes them passionate. By motivating, educating and empowering team members, they will be more likely to grow stronger within their positions, and stronger as a team.