The first version was originally published as: Boosting a Team's Skills
Team leaders, in any industry, should be encouraging the skill development of their teams. In software teams, developers are usually motivated to learn new skills and often times have to learn new skills when starting a new project, or working with a new team. Based on the experience of our developers and team leaders, there are a few well regarded best practices commonly used to help bring team members up to speed or help them develop personal or professional skills required for their general knowledge.
So, how can you be sure your new team members turn into future leaders? What follows is a compilation of best practices and techniques that will ensure skill development and project success.
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Encourage knowledge sharing
Knowledge sharing within software engineering includes many different activities and topics, but more generally, it is important to work with your team to encourage this idea of collaboration from the beginning. There are a variety of fun and engaging ways to share knowledge, try giving a talk in your local community or a scheduling a tech meeting, like lunch & learn, open space, etc. These activities force you to clarify your knowledge on the topic in order to effectively communicate to others the main components, it also helps you go further in depth. Encouraging your teammates to give short talks about a topic is an exciting challenge for many. Inherent within knowledge sharing are the following activities:
Training on demand
As the initial requirements of the project become clear and the technology stack is identified and detailed, you'll need to match existing team skills with the capabilities that the project needs. In order to start the first sprint and/or iteration with a team that can handle and exceed the client's expectations, team members need to be trained according to those specific needs. What we usually do is contact our in-house experts that already know the technology well. One of our strengths is being able to quickly identify those individuals and connect them to the right teams and projects.
[A helpful tip: It is a good idea to keep track of people's skill in your company, and not just professional skills. You never know when you might need a photographer to take photos for a last minute project. It's incredibly beneficial to understand the expertise of your employees in order to connect them to the right projects and training programs.]
In order for your team to be successful, you'll need to form strong, open lines of communication. However, these pathways also go a long way in ensuring individual and team training and skill development efforts are successful as well. Encouraging people to ask for help achieving their personal career goals will create an environment in which people are inspired to innovate and seek out new skills. Knowing they have the support of the team leader will further promote a cohesive, innovative team. Understand the types of skills your team members want to develop, for example:
For a team to acquire new skills it takes a combination of providing them with the appropriate tools and techniques, and encouraging their personal will to improve as software developers. You need to provide an adequate and stimulating environment that can be leveraged by all types of developers with any kind of backgrounds.
About PSL: Perficient Latin America specializes in Agile software development. By utilizing a nearshore model and engaging in long-term partnerships, Perficient Latin America works closely with clients to solve complex technology challenges using the latest tools and resources. With offices in Colombia, Mexico and the US, Perficient Latin America has customers all over Latin and North America, ranging from tech startups to Fortune 500 companies.