Challenges Leading a Technical Team

Posted in management by Christopher R. Wirz on Sun Jan 03 2016

There are many examples of technical teams taking basic requirements from non-technical customers and responding with impressive technical knowledge and technical questions. Instead of showing the products that fit customers' criteria, or simply providing advice, they may focus on product functions that the customer fails to connect to their needs. Finally, a focus on functions does not provide the customer a direct sense of outcomes. This disparity may cause the customer to take their business elsewhere - but it also reflects of some of the challenges associated with managing technical teams.

Note: Many challenges exist in the interactions between technical talent and non-technical customers.

A significant goal of managing a technical team is to avoid creating frustration with the customer. This begins by getting to know your technical team members. Find out what jargon they use. This should be apparent when they converse with each other.

Technical jargon may make others feel like they are out of place rather than part of the team. Ask technical team members to explain terms/jargon during meetings so that everybody can understand fully. It is often helpful to maintain a central glossary of technical terms.

Technical teams sometimes forget the needs of others in the organization. Technical teams sometimes focus on their role without real consideration of the roles of other team members. Technical team members are typically very interested in topics where they can involve and demonstrate their knowledge. Sometimes they unfortunately neglect to get involved in areas beyond their core responsibility, even when their knowledge can be very helpful.

Technical team members must understand the goals of the business. With that understanding, they can creatively generate solutions to problems within the organization.

Technical team members have many demands to balance. They are frequently working on a number of projects and activities as shared resources. If team members prioritize themselves, immediate needs can sometimes get a lower priority to high profile projects. Being aware of tasking of the technical team members is important. Work with project managers to understand where technical team members are most needed.

Watch for a focus on perfection of analysis paralysis. Technical team members can sometimes spend a lot of time trying to get things perfect. While something can be technically perfect, it might not fit the required business process. This is also why it is important for technical team members to understand the goals of the business. When trying to resolve an issue, a perfectionist mentality can tempt a technical teammate to continue fixing other issues out of scope. This may lead to complications.

It is important to watch for these common technical team characteristics to manage technical team members more effectively. Coaching can promote a better understanding of the team members' roles. This will enhance their impact on the business.

Looking for a job?