10 tips for IT team leaders

Yuliya Loktyushina,
Web Analytics Group Manager

Yuliya Loktyushina, Web Analytics Group Manager

Becoming a successful team leader requires more than just great expertise in your field, you also need to be prepared to overcome daily challenges. To be a team leader in IT you need to be a visionary, able to answer questions from your team members, give the right feedback and continually improve your soft skills to inspire others and resolve conflicts should they arise. Yuliya Loktyushina, Web Analytics Group Manager at Kaspersky, shares some tips to consider when beginning your journey as a manager.

Manage roles

Do not leave anyone behind when managing team projects. Thoroughly review your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and assign tasks based on their skills and abilities. Manage responsibilities and individual scopes of work, giving everyone an opportunity to contribute to projects. Such collaborative team work will not only bring your colleagues together and give them topics to discuss, but will also give everyone the opportunity to generate new ideas. During our project, the introduction of Google Analytics 4, nobody was left behind – everyone in my team had their own area of expertise and this worked really well.

Inspire the team and be inspired

Bring inspiration to your team’s daily work. Be a visionary and lead by example – be engaged in your work and describe your ideal vision for the success of your projects. In order to inspire others, you have to, first, be inspired yourself – subscribe to professional resources and find exciting news about other companies and projects that will put you in an aspiring and high-flying mood. Stay up-to-date and continue your education – find useful resources and study your topic inside and out to become a true professional.

Encourage your team to unlock their potential

Empower your team to take on new challenges and embark on new educational journeys. Create a supportive environment that unleashes your team’s potential and be ready to provide necessary resources, keeping in mind the benefits you will gain from such initiatives. Allow your employees to be proactive and take responsibility. This will not only benefit your work, but will also boost their professionalism and confidence. Also, ensure you are open to new suggestions and innovations.

Take into account the specific knowledge of IT teams

Use knowledge about the differences between IT and non-IT specialists to understand your employees and present them with a comfortable space. Programmers and developers often need justification to take a new task onboard, particularly when being asked to start a new large-scale project. Treat your team as experts who have the right to challenge your ideas and be ready to justify them. Before presenting a new idea, ask yourself several questions: why does the company need this?; do we have enough resources to make it happen?; and, how can I prove the necessity of it to the team?. When I was thinking about introducing Google Analytics 4 to the Kaspersky team, I did my own research about similar products and solutions and found several supporting reasons to choose this project.

Regularly give feedback and appraisal

Mistakes are going to happen. The best thing you can do is acknowledge the mistake, express your concern for the team and figure out how to resolve the issue together. It is crucial to regularly give positive feedback. If you lead a group of IT specialists, try to show praise not only by giving verbal feedback, but also by showing them the results of their work. If a team member is submerged in tables and code, and never sees the end-product, they risk losing their sense of importance at work. Demonstrate your colleagues' contributions and give positive feedback. For instance, I always demonstrate to my IT specialists the products that they contribute to. This gives them a clear vision of the result of their work, instead of only seeing the code they deal with directly.

Make your role as a manager, not a peer, clear

Although it is vital to be supportive and friendly, do not forget your role as a leader. Keep some distance from your team members, be ready to protect them and give honest feedback. It is a delicate art, balancing a warm attitude with the occasional motivational kick.

Do not be afraid to ask for help

Do not be afraid to admit that you require help from your team – it does not make you unprofessional. Asking for help when needed is crucial for maintaining strong relationships with your team. By accepting that you are not a know-it-all, you give your colleagues the opportunity to show off their own strengths.

Be approachable and ready to offer your help

Make sure that everyone on the team has the resources they need to effectively do their tasks and be there for your them if they require help or advice. Daily or weekly catch-ups to find out the status of their current tasks, delegate remaining ones and direct help where most needed, can help with this.

Create a system of recognition

Work out methods of praising employees for their work. Think about a recognition system to acknowledge an employee’s input. This can include bonuses and awards, or non-material forms of praise.

Work on team building

It is always worth getting to know your team better and understanding their interests. As a leader, you can organize team building events, allowing for the opportunity to discuss hobbies and share impressions of working together. Creating such a welcoming space and communicating as a team will lead to a more productive and open working environment.