Building a Resilient Engineering Team

Against wind and tide - Pedro Sanz

In software engineering, stress and burnout are increasingly challenges that both individuals and teams face.

As a software engineering manager, it is essential to prioritise the well-being of your team members and create a resilient engineering team.

Working across several teams in the past few years, some effective strategies I have found for managing stress and burnout within a team have been to focus on career and development plans, be clear about communication expectations and time management, and manage delivery performance expectations with stakeholders.

Career Development Plans

One method I have found to support my team members and promote resilience is by implementing career development plans. These plans provide a framework to discuss growth and advancement opportunities. Knowing the areas team members are interested in can allow them to take on those challenges and engage in the work that brings them satisfaction. Engaging in regular conversations with your engineers helps you understand their aspirations, interests, and areas for development.

By investing in their professional growth, you demonstrate your commitment to their long-term success and well-being.

Managing Time and Communication Expectations

Setting time and communication expectations plays a key role in preventing stress and burnout. Encourage your team to prioritise their work effectively, set realistic expectations for deliverables, and communicate the requirements and expectations around response times. Helping them identify potential blocking issues, bottlenecks and discractions, can provide support in managing their workload. Regularly review project scope and delivery time lines and adjust them if necessary, to maintain a sustainable pace of work that allows for a healthy work-life balance. Fostering a culture of open communication where team members feel comfortable discussing challenges, seeking assistance, and expressing concerns will help identify any issues early and reduce the impact of last-minute changes.

Check in with the Team

Regularly checking in with your team members is crucial for understanding the state of their well-being and beginning to identify any individual or common potential stressors. Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings to discuss their workload, challenges, and overall satisfaction is my highest priority when working with a new team. Actively listening to their concerns with the aim of first understanding their position and desires, then seeking to provide the necessary support or resources. Being heard is important for team morale.

Building a resilient engineering team requires a proactive approach from software engineering managers. By implementing strategies such as career and development plans, setting time and communication expectations, and regularly checking in with the team, you can create an environment that promotes well-being, reduces the chance of burnout, and enhances team resilience. Prioritising work-life balance and fostering open communication will contribute to a healthier and more productive team, which will not only be more successful in the long run but also be more satisfied and engaged in their work.