Leading a tech or IT team when you have little-to-no technical knowledge of your own can be a challenge. As a manager, your job will involve making key decisions that affect the lives of your team – so it’s important that you understand their roles, and the effects your choices have on them.
If you’re starting a new job as a non-technical manager for a team of developers or engineers, here’s how you can ensure a great working relationship.
1. Overcome the imposter syndrome
That feeling you’re underqualified for the job you’ve been offered is recognised by psychologists as “imposter syndrome”. Often occurring in high-achievers, imposter syndrome leads people to believe their accomplishments are the result of an unintentional ruse, despite external evidence of competence.
Experiencing imposter syndrome is a major roadblock to being an effective leader. It’s up to you to have the confidence and surety to lead, and feeling like your choices are less valid will hold you back. Remember that you were hired for a reason – someone saw the truth of your abilities and determined you were right for the role. Identify when you feel imposter syndrome and remind yourself that just because you don’t know something, doesn’t mean you’re incompetent. Instead, recognise it as an area of potential growth.
2. Be able to back up your decisions
Be prepared for push-back when making important decisions. Sometimes technical staff will feel they are qualified to handle the business aspects of your role, because business knowledge is easily accessible compared to programming. Anyone can read articles on select topics and feel informed about business – but it’s you who has the experience and formal training to make the best decisions.
Ensure you have solid reasoning behind your decisions and be willing to explain them clearly and unemotionally if you are challenged.
3. Make an effort to learn, even slowly
Showing you’re invested in understanding the day-to-day lives of your team can go a long way towards building goodwill. Ask questions and read about the industry in your own time to pick up more of the terminology and processes that your team works with every day. No one expects you to start coding, so don’t feel like you have to gain intimate programming knowledge – just make it clear you’re trying to understand how they work and how you can help.
4. Create a culture of questions
When you’re unafraid to ask for help, you open the floor to better discussion. Some developers are quite introverted, so it’s important you normalise open communication. Ask for feedback personally and appear approachable for new proposals. Your developers will have fantastic, well-informed ideas that can help the whole team succeed, but it’s up to you to ensure they feel comfortable sharing them.
Bringing your leadership skills to an unfamiliar industry doesn’t have to be daunting. Get support for your growing career from 920 Career Agents today.