Project Management – Congratulations! You got promoted to manager, supervisor, or team lead. You’re now managing a group of talented software developers and are excited to take charge. But no one may have told you how demanding leading a development team can be.
Between juggling unplanned absences, meeting client deadlines, and dealing with different personalities, you may start to second-guess your promotion. You might also be realizing that each team member works and handles project management differently. This reality can make projects challenging to coordinate and complete on time with quality results.
Fortunately, there are some ways to help your team improve their project management skills and achieve the outcomes clients want. Some of these tactics deal with the capabilities of software apps and tools, and others come from good leadership. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of them.
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Establish a Strategy or Vision
Undoubtedly, each project will have different details, timelines, and requirements. However, there may be similar ways to approach and work through most projects’ tasks. Plus, every project your team completes might fit into a larger goal or strategy. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to lay out a game plan for the team. This plan should include a road map or strategy for completing projects and meeting collective goals.
Team huddles are one way to review strategies and nail down work methods. But you can also use project management software to create road maps and document game plans. It’s all too easy to forget conversations or some of their important details. By documenting your plans for each project and the team’s overall workflow, everyone will have something to refer back to. Those written strategies and roadmaps can motivate the team and keep them on track.
Create and Follow Up on Deadlines
Think about what happens when you know you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment or get chores done at home. You tend to put these items on the back burner unless you set deadlines for yourself. As a team lead, setting general project timelines is essential so the group knows what to prioritize.
Yet setting general project deadlines often isn’t enough. You’ve got to assign target dates for each task or deliverable. Say you give different assignments to various developers on your team. All of these tasks fall under a single project. But if these assignments need to happen in a specific order, the team may have trouble with coordination. Help the group by creating deadlines for each task and follow up with team members regarding completions and handoffs.
Projects don’t make it to the finish line due to the efforts of one person. Successful completion depends on the contributions of each team member, making collaboration a vital part of effective project management. Statistics reveal that over 50% of U.S. workers say their jobs depend on collaboration. Around 75% of employees believe teamwork and collaboration are essential, while 86% of leaders blame poor collaboration for failures.
Teams that work well together can increase their productivity, job satisfaction, and performance. Getting them there means facilitating good communication and work sessions that promote listening and group problem-solving. Project management or collaborative software can also give teams the tools they need to share documents and send messages. For remote and hybrid groups, these apps will prove to be a lifeline for brainstorming, conversation, and teamwork.
Balance Team Members’ Workloads
Managers can be guilty of assigning too much to their top performers and most seasoned employees. It’s sometimes easier to give tasks to those you know you can depend on. But while high achievers will often put their noses to the grindstone, they can also burn out more easily. Assigning too many tasks to too few people will create bottlenecks for the team and possibly demotivate them.
Some will wonder why they’re not getting as many assignments and feel undervalued or unappreciated. Those with too much on their plates may start to slow down, hold back, or look for other job opportunities. Instead of giving in to what seems easiest, distribute assignments evenly among the group. You may need to pair a junior developer with a more experienced employee to get a task done right. However, this approach gives your new employees a chance to cut their teeth and stay engaged.
Mediate Group Conflicts
Team members won’t see eye to eye on everything all the time. Inevitably, conflicts will come up between two or more employees. Some disagreements can be healthy and invite productive discussions that help the group reach new heights. Conversely, conflicts may veer toward an unhealthy course and create an impasse. These situations make working together uncomfortable, stressful, and sometimes impossible.
Part of a leader’s job is to prevent disagreements from reaching the tipping point. Being a mediator for team conflicts is a way to maintain group cohesion. Encourage thoughtful discussion that speaks about issues with respect to tangible results or processes rather than placing blame on personal characteristics. Try to get the group to identify the root of the conflict, whether it’s miscommunication, mismatched expectations, or inefficient workflows.
Helping Developers With Project Management
Project management is a skill most developers will need to learn to be successful. Throw in everyday group dynamics, and team leads soon realize how critical this skill is to productive outcomes. Managers can help their development teams become better at managing their projects by taking on the role of a coach. By establishing strategies, creating deadlines, encouraging collaborative discussions, balancing workloads, and mediating group conflicts, you’ll set your team up for success.