How To Avoid Micromanaging Your Software Development Team

An effective software development team leader is one who can set clear goals, clearly and concisely communicate project requirements, and inspire the commitment of the entire team to meet organizational goals and objectives. A great manager or PM has to make crucial decisions and find innovative ways to overcome obstacles and ensure success.

However, it’s not uncommon for software development team managers to give in to the fear of losing control, thereby falling into the micromanagement trap. And no employee enjoys working with a micro-manager.

There’s a reason why you hired software developers to work in your company. Perhaps you have the technical expertise and experience, but want to focus on other aspects of the business. Or you’re not a developer yourself and, therefore, need a competent team to work with. Whatever the reason, you don’t want to focus on the micro as this can add obstacles and create all manner of interruptions that could demotivate your team.

What is Micromanagement?

When you micromanage a team, you’re simply trying to control or manage everything (including the small details) in your software development process or team. As the boss, you closely keep an eye on the work your development team is doing and, as a result, you may lose track of the bigger picture. For example, as a chief technology officer, instead of assessing results, you might be bogged down by simple questions, like what their Helm repository practices or DevOps processes entail.

While this may give you greater control over projects, tasks, and company operations, it isn’t scalable at all― and can easily get team members to resent you. Plus, it damages trust between you and the developers. The end result: burnout in your team and increased turnover rate. Or you end up with a development team that can’t do any meaningful work without someone keeping a close eye on them― they become dependent on micromanagement.

How Do You Stay Focused on the Bigger Picture and Avoid Micromanaging Your Development Team?

Allow them to Problem Solve on Their Own

If you’re certain you have highly skilled developers on your team, then it’s best to trust that they’re competent enough to perform their responsibilities. Focus on providing them with the support and guidance they need, instead of trying to inspect everything they do. Don’t even think of teaching them how to perform their role. They need to know that you trust their expertise, skills, and judgment as professionals in their field.

Once you’ve clearly defined the scope of your development project and concisely communicated project requirements, allow your team members to think, brainstorm, and solve problems on their own. This means empowering them to not only organize their own workflow but also make informed choices about the tools they can use to perform tasks.

Hire the Right People

Perhaps it’s not that you’re a perfectionist who craves control over others. The problem could be that you have the wrong people in your team. Hiring a developer who’s underqualified or has bad working habits is likely to push you to become a micromanager.

It’s important that you set up an effective hiring process that will only bring on board top-notch developers who are committed to fulfilling their obligations. Create a working environment that gives your developers the freedom to perform tasks and, if any of them doesn’t know how to make proper use of their freedom, you’re better off finding someone who does.

Ask for Feedback

Your development team is likely to trust you more if you give them the freedom to try things out and contribute to the success of the company. The last thing you want is to work with a team of passive code monkeys.

Start by establishing clear communication channels and creating an environment that encourages your employees to openly share their ideas, without the fear of being criticized or victimized. Also, consider asking everyone in your team how they prefer being supervised and if they think you’re doing a good job as their manager. This will demonstrate to them that you value their opinions while allowing you to assess and cross-examine your management style. You want to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with your team for ongoing success.

Set Specific Times to Chat

No one disputes the fact that you’re in charge of your software development team. But constantly asking for a status update, switching project concepts every now and then, and organizing random ad-hoc meetings every week isn’t a good way to prove you’re the boss.

The truth is that growing a startup or company takes teamwork, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. And all this can only happen when people are given the freedom of work. Instead of coming to your development team throughout the day asking for an update, schedule dedicated meetings every week or daily “standups” to get quick updates on projects and keep the team connected.

Be Aware of Scope Creep

It’s not uncommon for development teams to define the scope of a project, draw up project plans, and even start developing the software solution only for the client to provide new project requirements or request to modify the existing requirements. Often, the client expects the development team to add these extras using the same resources (and budget) and within the same timeframe.

Unfortunately, the change requests end up affecting the project duration and budget, if not managed correctly. This results in increased development costs and missed deadlines. It’s, therefore, important that you be aware of scope creep and find ways to effectively manage it when it happens.

Make sure you inform the client of the implications of the modifications in terms of their impact on budget, development costs, and timelines. It’s up to them to decide whether they can work with the revised timelines and pay more for the additions. You also need to set up a change control process that will guide your development team in case there are changes in the project scope. This will help you avoid falling into the micromanagement trap.

Also Read: 5 Options To Develop A Software Product

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