In my last post I wrote about the cost of interruptions to your team and gave some tips on how to go about it when necessary. Today, I want to discuss your team interrupting you.
If someone on your team needs your time to ask a question, discuss a concern, or file a complaint, always make yourself available to them.
Not only should you make yourself accessible, but you should also disconnect your brain from what you were doing and listen. Minimize the window, shut off the screen, close the notebook. Do whatever you need to do to eliminate things that will steal your attention away from your team member. If you aren’t prepared to make this sacrifice, you haven’t prepared yourself enough to be a technical leader.
See the big thing many technical leaders forget is that they are management now, not developers. You may occasionally have the opportunity to solve coding problems or work on building features, but you are a leader (see it there in the job title? :). Managers must focus on business over technology.
Your team is the engine behind your business and if you don’t tend to your engine, it will eventually break down on you.
“But I have piles of stuff to get done too!” You’re right, and there might even be times when you have to fake your empathy or hide your irritation. The tech lead is in charge of keeping the team moving forward and eliminating blockers. Can all problems be solved immediately? Of course not, but you can listen now. They feel heard, you recognize a challenge with your team, and you can act whenever and however appropriate.
The transition to a technical leadership role requires a shift of mind from one of producing to one of enabling others to produce. Once you’ve made that mental transition, you will be able to really excel in your role.