What does it mean to be a Team Leader at Objectivity? How is this role different from such position at other companies? Is our Team Leader the same as a Line Manager at your workplace? How does this function work in our team?
The most reliable information comes from the source. This is why we asked two of our colleagues – Łukasz and Piotr – how do they perceive their roles of Team Leaders.
Wiola: Every leader begins somewhere. What was your experience when you joined us?
Łukasz: I joined Objectivity with 2 years of leadership experience. The role of a Team Leader at Objectivity differs a lot from what I was used to at a different company. Usually a Team Leader, also known as Line Manager, coordinates the work of the team. This is definitely not the case at Objectivity!
Piotr: I had no team leader experience before, but I think I’m a natural talent! I work on several additional projects outside of Objectivity and I cooperate with many people. This gives me a wider perspective and even more possibilities to develop myself. Here I have a great team of people I enjoy learning from. Some of them are Architects, so obviously they have amazing technical knowledge and interpersonal skills. I observe how they cooperate with other colleagues and Clients. This is a great value – looking at other projects, figuring out what and how I can implement in mine.
Milena: As you’re mentioning hard- and soft-skills… Currently you’re in two roles – Team Leaders and Senior Software Developers at the same time. How would you describe this combination?
Łukasz: A Team Leader at Objectivity is a link between an Architect and a team. He or she knows how code looks, what’s going on in the project and which challenges the developers face every day. My present role allows me finding a golden mean between the innovative ideas and solving the existing problem.
Piotr: Being a Team Leader means you have to cooperate not only with your own team, but with colleagues in other roles as well. We have to take care of the estimates, the budgets, the resources and keep in touch with Project Managers. At the same time we are Senior Developers or Technical Architects, so we have to synchronize with Business Analysts in order to come up with solutions. And then combine our technical and managerial skills to present everything to the team.
Łukasz: Exactly! We have to cooperate closely with Business Analysts to understand the requirements we’re working with. I like to question these requirements to find out if they’re really valuable. It’s easy to go overboard and develop many features which a Client wants. But we should also think of the future, try to foresee it. One feature can take 2-3 days to develop, but if we keep working on these small things, no one will look at the bigger picture. In a year or so we’ll be spending weeks to maintain these features to keep everything together. In the worst-case scenario these items don’t really add real business value and the Client loses time and money. So my role is to keep everyone happy: a Business Analyst, who wants to solve Client’s problem and a Developer, who wants to have an easily maintainable code while using new technologies.
Piotr: And this is when listening comes to play. In my team, I have an Architect with whom I discuss project matters very often. Then we present our suggestions to the rest of the team – what can be achieved and how we should do it. And we listen to what the team has to say about it. They always have bright ideas!
Wiola: Planning, supporting in executing, feedbacking – sounds like complex managerial duties. How about your other responsibilities?
Łukasz: In my case, 70% of tasks is still related to software development – coding, consultations with the Architects, Business Analysts and Testers. About 20% of my time is about improving the software development process that occurs while cooperating with Technical Architects and Project Managers. The remaining 10% I invest in my team’s development and administering formal matters – conducting 1:1 meetings, working on upskilling team members.
Piotr: Professional progress of my team and maintaining their motivation play a big role in my scope of duties. From pay rises, creating career paths, suggesting ways of developing skills and knowledge to finding new opportunities within the company. Managing the development process, planning the work and looking for improvements. This is what I call “developing the development” – I like to have a caring eye on everything, but not plan everything for everyone in the team.
Milena: Talking about the other meaning of development: how being a Team Leader influences your Developer’s role?
Łukasz: As a Team Leader I have a better overview of all the components of my team’s performance and better access to them. It means that I make better decisions in order to support Business Analysts and Architects. As a result, we deliver the software which really fulfils Client’s needs. Even though sometimes the outcome differs from the originally requested software.
Piotr: Being a Team Leader gives you a different perspective when you have a background of a Senior Software Developer. Not only you mentor colleagues and advise them, but you step in a Technical Architect’s shoes when he or she is not available.
Wiola: Looks like your role has many aspects and a big influence on Objectivity. What do you like in your job the most?
Łukasz: One thing I value the most is interacting with people across company and sharing the opinions freely. It’s very satisfying to see that my voice is heard. And to see the results of cooperation! We may have some harder times, some struggles – but that’s life. In the end of the day, everything goes in the right direction. The product is developing, the Client is satisfied. A team is like a sophisticated machine – more and more “parts” get involved as the project enhances and after a while every team member does what they’re best at – performing as one strong healthy organism.
Piotr: We have smaller and bigger projects. A new project is a new team. These fresh starts may be challenging, but we have our colleagues and Human Resources experts from to support us and this model is working well. We share our experiences and learn from our mistakes. You’re never alone! And what I like the most is when I ask my colleagues whether they want to change teams – and they reply: “We’re staying”. This is, in my book, a definition of a successful project.
Milena: What comes after a successful project? What are the possibilities to grow even more from the role of a Team Leader at Objectivity?
Łukasz: Personally, I haven’t started thinking about it yet, but I see at least a few opportunities which might be a good fit for me in the future. One of them is a position of a Chapter Leader who works closer with Guilds and Architects. I haven’t made up my mind yet!
Piotr: If you’re closer to the technology, you can develop as an Architect. I’m a .NET guy and I have a Java team. Coming from a different background, I had to get familiar with the technology, see how the team works with it. It’s a challenge, but a very satisfying one. Nothing is impossible.
Experience has shown us that the role of a Team Leader at Objectivity differs from the rest of the market. Our Team Leaders are responsible for three main areas:
- Creating an effective and motivated team.
- Project delivery, working together with the Project Manager, Business Analyst and Technical Architect.
- Continuation of good practices adopted throughout the entire department by ensuring the quality and selection of the right tools. The team lead is also a Senior Developer who continues actively programming for the majority of the time.
Every Team Leader at Objectivity receives a tailored development plan, which includes:
- Soft skills courses in the first 3 months in the new role
- Continuous development program, which includes a set of tools to motivate, coach and lead the team. As a part of the program, you work with HR Business Partner.
- Support of other colleagues during the first few weeks in the role. This support includes involvement of more experienced colleagues in: team building, recruitment and onboarding of new team members, creating development plans for the team.
Does it sound good? Check out open positions at Objectivity!