What is a tech lead? The four negative aspects of this campaign What does a tech lead do, though? Now that you’re a Tech Lead, you’re (potentially) in charge of coaching other members of the development team, making significant choices regarding tech issues, and more. However, you do not receive any extra training, any authority to direct others, and you might not even receive a pay raise. Additionally, you are still required to submit any code that you are able to write in between meetings.
What is a Tech Lead? 4 Bad Things About This Promotion
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This position is extremely difficult, according to software developer Vinicius Gomes. We don’t need a tech lead, the argument goes, because teams should divide up the responsibilities among themselves rather than expecting one individual to handle all of these duties competently. However, commenters on Hacker News argued that having one person make command decisions, overcome obstacles, and function as a single point of contact for other teams is actually beneficial.
Additionally, it’s a good method to determine whether you want to pursue a career in management. So what exactly is wrong with being a team lead or tech lead? This article will outline the four worst aspects of this role and provide advice for succeeding despite the difficulties, whether you recently received a promotion and want to know what’s in store or you’re contemplating vying for this position. But first, let’s quickly go over what a tech lead is responsible for. Continue reading or watch our Head of Community Anna’s film summary of the tech lead position:
Tech lead responsibilities
Different companies would respond differently if you questioned them about the position of the tech lead (or technical leader).
Every company takes a different approach to Tech Lead because it is not as standardised a position as, say, Scrum Master or Product Owner.
But there is a common basis.
The following obligations will (likely) come under your purview in addition to your regular programming responsibilities:
Making sure your team fully understands project requirements
Expect to spend a lot of your time as the tech lead answering queries about technical matters and running code reviews.
It’s an interpersonal position that calls for a combination of leadership, technical, and soft abilities.
Planning and prioritizing work
The Tech Lead frequently collaborates closely with the Product Owner during backlog refinement, which entails adding, removing, and reordering backlog items (typically user stories), to ensure that the development team always understands where to focus their efforts.
Communicating status updates to other teams
The position of tech lead requires tremendous teamwork, both within and between teams.
Tech Lead should serve as a point of contact for other tech teams in order to foster teamwork on an organisational level.
Ensuring the team effective and performing well
I wonder what that looks like.
According to Tyler Hawkins, a software engineer and tech lead, “I typically spend the first 1-3 hours of my day reviewing all active pull requests, responding to inquiries on Slack, and triaging new bugs.
In short, I strive to take every step I can to free up my team members from any delays.
I don’t begin my own job for the day until all of that is finished.
Throughout the remainder of the day, I’ll also monitor Slack or do code reviews, but only at natural stopping points to avoid breaking my flow.
Tech Leads are responsible for choosing the computer languages and frameworks that the development team will use, as well as how to handle technical debt, in order to keep projects moving forward.
In order to avoid halting progress, Technical Leaders should practise empowering their team members to find answers on their own.
Keeping projects moving along
You don’t have managerial responsibilities as a tech lead, but you do have a lot of power.
Especially if you’re a seasoned developer, every code review and every interaction is an opportunity to offer candid, considerate criticism and introduce junior team members to agile practises.
Coaching/mentoring team members
Although it’s not your responsibility to conduct performance evaluations or one-on-one meetings (a widely accepted fact in the engineering manager vs tech lead debate), you are in a unique position to observe coworkers on a peer level, which enables you to clearly see their strengths and flaws.
The 4 biggest challenges of being a Technical lead (and what to do about them)
1. Not getting to code as much
There are a limited number of hours in each day.
It follows that if you take on a lot of new duties, you’ll need to make time for them out of your existing obligations.
A competent tech lead is limited in their ability to code compared to when they were individual contributors.
And that can be challenging for those who enjoy coding.
William fontaine, a Reddit user, complained that he only had about five hours per week to write while he was working as a lead.
The remainder of his time was spent attending non-project meetings (20–25 hours), reviewing the work and design of other developers (5–10 hours per task), and “looking for a new position where I wouldn’t be a lead anymore for a few hours.”
- When serving as Tech Lead, Jeff Norris, a Principal Consultant and Developer, must strike a balance between his individual output and the group’s total output.
- According to Norris, “it typically ends up being more important to focus on the team’s productivity.”
- “Whether or not we succeed as a team now means more than whether or not I complete any stories.
- I might go an entire week without committing a single line of code because I’m running around clearing obstacles to the team’s productivity.
How to Cope
Many people believe that Tech Leads should spend the majority of their time coding, or at least extremely near to it. It might be argued that you were unfairly co-opted into an Engineering Management position if you find yourself coordinating most of the time. The coordination portion of your work should be a part-time position or a temporary tour of duty, which is the difference between a Tech Lead and an Engineering Manager.
It might be time to fight back if you’re performing the duties of an engineering manager but don’t have the title or the pay. In the interim, don’t be too hard on yourself about how much code you create, how well it works, or how much you understand the technology.
- Instead, concentrate on mastering the duties that are currently in your scope.
- Does your staff comprehend what is happening within the business?
- Have you created a plan and are you following it?
- Can you spot underperforming teammates and let your boss know about it?
- Do you know if your team has any talent gaps? If so, have you let your manager know?
- How to assess Engineering Managers can aid you in understanding Tech Lead KPIs, though not all of it will be applicable.
2. Context Switching
When you do settle down to code, you’ll be interrupted much more frequently, which is another related issue. Having meetings every hour makes it very difficult to get into the flow of creating code, according to Camille Fournier in The Manager’s Path. It takes roughly 20 minutes to become completely concentrated on the task at hand due to a phenomenon known as “attention residue.” This implies that as the number of interruptions rises, so does your productivity.
Therefore, not only will you have less time to code, but you will also produce less code in that period. It’s simple to feel down on yourself about what feels like a decrease in productivity because code is simpler to measure than your new responsibilities. Another difficulty is that you might be tempted to go in and repair mistakes yourself now that you are in charge of more of the team’s code.
But this is an error. First, it will inevitably lead to overwork and exhaustion. Second, it will weaken the influence of your peers. Thirdly, they are deprived of the chance to develop and learn. And one of your objectives as a tech lead is to assist your team in improving their performance rather than taking over their tasks.
How to Cope
Concentrate on making more Focus Time available for your team rather than lamenting your loss of it. “Since they will need to concentrate for several days on coding issues, it’s critical to get your team into a routine that enables them to work on development for extended periods of time, according to Fournier.
“An important aspect of your leadership is assisting the other stakeholders, like your supervisor and the product manager, in respecting the team’s focus and organising meeting schedules that are not too demanding on the team members.” The worst scheduling error, according to Fournier, is letting yourself be drawn into appointments at random. Fortunately, there is a free application that can instantly increase your team’s Focus Time.
3. Having to do things you’re not good at
In reality, it may have been a while since you were forced to perform an activity you were not good at. It stinks to be poor at things, for lack of a better phrase. It’s humiliating, unpleasant, and demoralising. Unfortunately, being a tech lead is a crash course in things that the vast, vast bulk of software engineers are bad at.
A tech lead is also a systems architect, business analyst, project planner, team leader, and, of course, a software engineer, according to Fournier. According to Ben Rossi, Editorial Director at Information Age, “a tech lead needs abilities that include coaching, influencing, facilitating, motivating, and delegating.” A significant portion of the job involves project administration, so you must become skilled at comprehending processes, handling complexity, and strategic thinking. And while it’s possible that you didn’t know much before about how your production system was set up, you can’t function as a tech lead if you do.
Great developers frequently fall victim to the “works-on-my-machine” anti-pattern, but tech leaders must consider the entire system rather than just the code, according to Ben Rossi, editorial director of Information Age. Now you have to consider how to optimise the amount of work your team can complete concurrently; individual heads-down coding is no longer an option.
A good Tech Lead is more at ease with ambiguity and able to tolerate less-than-ideal solutions than an individual contributor, which kind of ties everything together. Ultimately, deciding when to settle for good enough and when to demand better generally requires judgement. Therefore, you must be skilled at making choices when you lack a simple, fact-based solution.
How to Cope
You will discover everything you require to know more quickly if you can let go of the need to already know it all. And the more fun you’ll have doing it. The best way to avoid imposter syndrome is to acknowledge that you weren’t promoted because your boss assumed you were already an expert in all of this.
You were given a promotion because you demonstrated a desire to learn and the ability to do so. So, make inquiries. Many inquiries. Ridiculous inquiries Humiliating inquiries Go to lessons. Locate a guide.
4. Working with people
As a tech lead, you must communicate much more than you did as an independent contributor. Your work now includes a significant amount of coaching, persuasion, influence, and advice. Also, let’s be honest.
The majority of skilled software engineers are not people-oriented. Because much of a Tech Lead’s job requires a deft hand, not feeling socially adept can be difficult. You might be requested, for instance, to supervise and evaluate the code of other developers. You might be required to demonstrate. You’ll probably need to explain to other parts of the company what’s happening with engineering. Additionally, let your squad know what is happening with other teams.
And not all of the news will be positive. You might need to assist the referee and break impasses when fellow programmers argue; this is a challenging social scenario. When the team is unable to decide between two similar solutions, the Tech Lead “should act as a tiebreaker, and they should keep the team from thrashing by keeping the team from constantly re-opening decisions that have been made,” according to Norris.
After that, it’s possible that your tech skills will stagnate as you work to improve your people skills. At exactly that point, a young upstart will join the team and best you. When Peter Gillard-Moss, Head of Technology for Thoughtworks’ Technical Operations, was promoted to Team Lead, this is exactly what occurred.
As the tech lead, Gillard-Moss stated, “I thought that I had to prove myself as the most technically capable.” Every time they demonstrated their skills to others, particularly my managers, I would feel uneasy because I was afraid they would be seen as more qualified for my position than I was.
How to Cope
Empathy is your friend and ego is your enemy when dealing with people. Be receptive to criticism of your communication style, both vocal and nonverbal. When speaking, try to imagine yourself in the other person’s position. pose foolish inquiries. Over-explain. Moreover, give up the notion that you must possess the greatest level of technological expertise. Your attention must now shift to inspiring your team, conducting effective sessions, and assigning tasks.
Another piece of advice from Norris: “One of the most helpful pieces of advice I ever got as a Tech Lead was to get out there and speak to people, having ‘water cooler talks’ with the people who are the stakeholders in your project. Don’t limit it to work; inquire about their children’s health and discuss their preferred dining establishments.
Engage them because they are much more likely to tell you when things are going wrong if you have a strong working and personal relationship with them rather than waiting and seeing what happens.
Additionally, they are more likely to involve you early or provide you with pertinent feedback quickly. These connections are crucial. A friendship cannot be started in the past, but it can be started now.
So what exactly is a tech lead? Talented engineers who are interested in developing their mentoring, project management, and communication skills are called tech leads. A Tech Lead position is frequently a good method to determine if management is right for you because many of these skills are necessary for management. A good way to have more influence over the goals and general direction of your team is to be promoted to tech lead.
You only need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering, which you probably already have as a developer or engineer, as well as enough time and experience to demonstrate your abilities and advance to the position of tech lead. You don’t need any certifications specifically for tech leads, either.
However, the position is not without its difficulties, such as having to cut back on the amount of code you used to write, switching contexts much more frequently, spending more time doing tasks you’re not yet good at, and spending a much larger portion of your day working with people.