Leading engineering teams by example
Transparency means tracking data for good and creating inclusive, helpful, trustworthy and predictable communication. It leads to objective decision-making, more productive (and calmer) retrospectives and highlights opportunities for every member of the team.
Usha Kuchibhotla, Principal Software Engineer at Neuro-ID, expanded on ideas of transparency in her discussion on clean code by emphasizing the importance of leading-by-example for senior team members. Showing junior level engineers that they collaborate on code and are open to honest feedback lays the groundwork for sustained communication.
There were two presentations about building quality and observation into the process, which, again, drives home the vitality of constant collaboration from ideation to product release. A small number of people can, of course, drive initial success, but long-term success and productivity comes through cultivating communication, culture and community.
Psychological safety and team health
Meri Williams, Chair of The Lead Developer conference, talked about psychological safety when she emphasized a need for leaders to “create space to be awesome for everyone, so they can be themselves and succeed. All your team members need to feel like they do quality work. That they belong and can be satisfied and productive.”
Aisha Blake, Pluralsight’s Director of Developer Relations, drove home this throughline of culture and communication by giving a dynamic talk on equipping your teams to support junior developers. She emphasized team spirit of development by comparing teams to the theater. “Everybody sweeps. It’s a rule that comes from theater. It doesn’t matter what your role is when it’s time to clean up. Everybody sweeps! We should be distributing available tasks in a range that offers challenges and interests but everyone needs to be involved to build culture.”
A final takeaway from LeadDev New York was that change is not linear. It doesn’t follow a clean path, but it’s constant. To continue to build products and code that solve real-world problems, developers need to embrace this change and act accordingly. The good news is that the natural state of an engineer is to be productive and engaged, and by providing data-driven insights that foster a collaborative culture, leaders can create happy and healthy engineering teams.