Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Challenges of managing a technical team, part of Managing Technical Teams.
- I recently had to purchase a new laptop. I went into a large computer retail store and was greeted by a store attendant. I wasn't looking for a lot of advice, so I explained to him what I wanted, a simple, easy to use basic laptop. Instead of showing me the products that fit my criteria, he tried to impress me with his knowledge by asking me a lot of technical questions. Frustrated, I ended up walking out and buying my laptop at another store. With your technical efforts you want to avoid creating frustration between the technical team and your customer.
A good place to start is by getting to know your technical team members. You might find that they use a lot of jargon. Technical team members can tend to use jargon-filled language when talking to each other. But with others that technical jargon may leave people feeling like they're visiting another country, rather than attending a meeting down the hall. Ask technical team members to explain things during meetings, so that everybody including you can understand fully.
Having a glossary of technical terms can also be helpful. Technical team members don't always consider the needs of other people in the business. They sometimes focus on their role in the technical environment, without real consideration of the roles of other team members. Technical team members are typically very interested in the parts of the environment where they're knowledgeable and involved. However, sometimes they neglect to get involved in areas beyond their scope of responsibility, even when their knowledge can be very helpful.
Having technical team members understand the goals of the business is important. With that understanding you can harness their creative power to generate solutions to problems you otherwise would miss. Technical team members are subject to great demands. Often your technical team members or experts share over a number of projects and initiatives. This means your needs can sometimes get a lower priority to high profile projects. Being aware of the demands on your technical team members is important.
Ensure you speak to the project managers, so that you understand when and where your technical team members are needed. Finally, watch for a focus on perfection. Your technical team members can spend a lot of time trying to get things perfect. In doing so, they can design something that while technically perfect, does not fit the required business process. Again, having technical team members thoroughly understand the goals of the business can be helpful.
During the resolution of one issue, a perfection mentality can create temptation to continue fixing other things at the same time. Sometimes it may be prudent to do so, but often this can lead to complications. Watching for these common technical team characteristics and coaching them can help you manage your technical team members more effectively. Your coaching can promote a better understanding of the role of your team, and enables them to expand their impact on your business.