My Week showcases one of our expert’s work week – the highs and the challenges they are facing, and what the role actually consists of.
This week it’s time for us to step to the world of Team Leading. We interviewed Janne, our Azure Developer, and the Team Lead of one of Zure’s biggest project teams of 12 people. Janne came to Zure 4 years ago as an Azure Developer, but quickly found himself in the Team Lead position. What’s the work week like for a Team Lead? Let’s hear Janne’s version!
What does your work week consist of?
Looking at this week, it sure does look like a Team Lead’s week! I have a lot of meetings with different stakeholders and of course our Zure team. We’re in the middle of a big ERP renewal project for our customer with three suppliers and a whole lot of dependencies between us. Our own team also contains some “miniteams” delivering web apps (React SPA and Azure App Services), mobile app (React Native), integration platform (Event Grid & Azure Functions) and even with some data science and machine learning magic (of which I understand nothing). It all takes a team of 12 people from UX Designers, QA Specialists, Developers and a Data Scientist to pull it together.
So as you might guess, we have a team of super talented people. What does a Developer do here then as a Team Lead? Well, my job is not to produce the most code, it’s quite far from coding on some weeks. I would say that my main concern is that the project and the team is heading in the right direction. I want to make sure that the work divides evenly and the team (and the customer) is focusing on right things at the right time. And also that the team and it’s members are doing well. If the team requires more hands it is my job to get them from our expert leads.
As a team lead you’re communicating a lot. It is natural for the team lead to often be the first point of contact so a lot of time goes into teams chats and random calls with customers and team members. In the end I always try to look at the big picture and challenge the direction and ways of working if they do not seem right. It is important to bring up risks, raise issues and escalate matters if needed. However, I do not feel like this is specifically a Team Lead mandate – I feel like this is what we aim to be at Zure anyways. We want to resolve the right things, and are not scared to raise up issues along the way.
What has been most challenging this week?
There is no single challenge that comes to my mind. The overall situation where we are approaching the “end-game” & deadline of the project is of course tight. We have three different teams with interlinking development areas, and when the testing advances, we learn a lot every day. Based on these learnings we sync on new findings, decide on correct actions, prioritize the backlog and discuss on the resourcing – who focuses on which areas. So it’s just a lot of syncing between all teams.
Best things lately?
Coming from this long remote-first era, I’m still thrilled to meet the team live. This week we had our monthly Team Lunch in Fat Lizard, and last week we had an integration architectural pow-wow with Pasi and Iiro. It was super fun to be in the same room, drawing integrations flows to whiteboard side-by-side.
I’m also trying to make it to our monthly Methodology Guild meeting. As I’m coming from a development-focused background but working in a sort of managerial role in an agile environment, I’m interested in all methodology about Agile practices and Project Management. We can also coach ourselves internally by our Project Mentors if needed.
But really, the best thing lately is that I’m gonna go visit my 96 year old grandma next weekend 🙂
What does it take to be a Team Lead?
Team Lead is a very social role. You need to have the will to communicate to the team and customer, and have the courage to open your mouth even when you disagree.
As a Team Lead you do not need to be an MVP-level expert. At Zure, we are all professionals, and it’s easy to trust the team with any kinds of challenges. So as a Team Lead it’s more important that you understand the big picture and make sure nothing is left unnoticed. It’s important to trust and take care of the team – they will do their magic.
Also, the ability not to take too much stress from ambiguous situations is important. There is always tight deadlines, unknown issues and challenges in all projects. But with a competent team and willingness to resolve the issues together, there is no need to worry.