Everyone knows that feeling of micromanagement, and if you don’t, then you’re lucky. Having the smallest things pointed out to you on the day’s “to-do” list, no matter how obvious, doesn’t help. It shows a lack of trust and too much control.

But worse, it can help to create a team of task-dependent zombies. Lurching around the office, only working if they have a task in hand. And once completed, they shuffle off looking for another task to fuel their productivity. It may seem like a farfetched scenario, but it can happen.

In today’s blog, I will discuss the impacts of micromanagement on software teams, as well as share advice from a Team Lead on how to effectively manage a software development team.

Table of contents:

How micromanagement affects a team’s autonomy

To some, it may seem like the more management, the more work being completed. The reality is something else, micromanagement is counterproductive.  It impacts both team leaders and software engineers alike.  

Overly micromanaged developers often find themselves relying heavily on others, shifting the responsibility onto team leads or those with specific knowledge. They wait for someone to come and give them precise instructions. By giving developers a step-by-step recipe for every task, we deprive them of the opportunity to learn and grow independently.

Now, let’s face it, some individuals prefer to have clear goals and tasks laid out for them. While that might work for them, we aim to bring aboard people who are truly engaged, motivated, and willing to contribute their ideas. We value those who are genuinely invested in their self-development. It can be disheartening when their chance to showcase their ideas is taken away, as we believe they have the potential to bring so much more than just writing code.

The power of independence when managing a software team

When developers become more independent and take ownership of their work, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Managers can take a breather and don’t have to invest the same amount of time into micromanaging every little detail. That means they can focus on other areas.

One management style that helps is Agile. It might be a good idea to use Agile methodology due to its focus on empowering teams, fostering adaptability, and promoting collaboration. Agile empowers team members to take ownership of the project. Allowing team leaders to track the project’s progress through communication channels and not via micromanagement.

But what advice can team leaders give you when it comes to managing a team?

How to manage a software development team? Insights from a team leader

Piotr FililpowiczJava / Cloud lead architect shares his advice on managing a software team.

  • Delegate and empower – shape the solution on a high level and let the team decompose it. In short, outline the overall vision or broad direction of the solution but leave the team to break down the details and finer aspects of the solution.
  • Build a culture that takes responsibility for specific functionality by the team, not by the tech/team lead. In other words, responsibility for specific tasks or functions is distributed among team members rather than being solely placed on the technical or team leader.
  • Let developers make mistakes – It’s the best school of learning.
  • Spread the knowledge that developing features is only part of the delivery process. You need time to test, install on specific environments and check against regression bugs. It’s all about time management.
  • Regular check-ins: Schedule periodic check-ins with your manager to provide updates on projects, discuss challenges, and highlight successes. This helps maintain open lines of communication and builds trust over time.
  • Open communication culture – listen to everyone and consider their advice and recommendations. Even juniors have good ideas, so don’t dismiss advice because of the source.

If you want to know more about the topic, we have additional information about how to work with software teams.

Key tips for breaking free from micromanagement

What other ways are there to help build a motivated software team? I believe these tips are helpful to keep in mind.

  • Emphasize Responsibility: Highlight the importance of taking responsibility for tasks and projects. Encourage your team members to step forward, take ownership, and be accountable for their work. When they see their colleagues doing it successfully, it’ll inspire them to do the same.
  • Foster Idea Generation: Take the time to highlight team members who took responsibility and came up with ideas. It’s important to stress this type of approach to work. And you collect in the back of people’s minds they can do it too.
  • Value Soft Skills: While technical skills are essential, don’t underestimate the power of soft skills. Effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving abilities are just as important. Encourage team members to develop these skills alongside their technical expertise.
  • Lead by Example: Be a manager that your team can trust. Create an environment where they feel comfortable speaking their minds without fear of consequences. Embrace feedback, good or bad. Remember, it’s a two-way street, and open communication helps with trust.
  • Provide Feedback and Encouragement: Don’t discourage your team members. Remember, “People who are not making mistakes are people doing nothing.” Let people learn from their mistakes. Avoid being harsh on your team because it can hold them back from pushing harder.

Managing software development teams: small changes, big impact

Trust, clear communication, and honest feedback lead to positive outcomes in most cases. Don’t underestimate the seemingly small things; investing time in communication can make a world of difference when it comes to managing software teams. At Inspeerity, we value these soft skills that contribute to productivity, and 99% of us are highly conscious of their importance.

So, let’s keep nurturing those relationships, fostering open dialogue, and watching, as turning away from micromanagement gives the biggest results.

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