As a team lead how do you encourage your team members to give their best and stay motivated?

View other answers to this thread
Start a personal dev blog on your domain for free and grow your readership.

3.4K+ developers have started their personal blogs on Hashnode in the last one month.

Write in Markdown · Publish articles on custom domain · Gain readership on day zero · Automatic GitHub backup and more

Jason Knight's photo

TALK TO THEM. LISTEN TO THEIR PROBLEMS. HELP THEM GET THE JOB DONE.

... and if they have a complaint, don't just dismiss it! Don't micromanage and dictate HOW they get things done; but be there if they need it!

But more importantly, HAVE THEIR BACKS! There's a difference between a "boss" and a "leader". A leader is there for the TEAM. You are there FOR THEM, not the other way around. If you aren't there FOR THEM then everything falls apart.

To borrow from Patton:

There is a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and is much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.

That's not some feel-good bull you slap on a bumper sticker. In that way office-space relations have become increasingly less reliant on actual interpersonal communication and depending more and more on automation that makes things LOOK more productive, but the end result is more often than not little more than shantytown sausages filled with mystery meat.

You can see this with things like version control software. As I often say back in the day on major projects we had project managers who did their huffing job riding herd on the line coders. Holding meetings not to bark marching orders or promote themselves, or to randomly change direction over something they read in Forbes, but to let everyone have their say and contribute to the whole! To iron over problems, to create an environment in which people can voice their problems and EVERYONE else contributes to help remedy things.

Nowadays it seems like most "project managers" aren't worthy of the name, trying to let GIT do their job whilst locking themselves in the office to play Facebook games all day -- and they'll throw ANYONE who jeopardizes their position under the bus as an excuse to stay exactly where they are. That's why fresh out of college entry level programmers have an employment term roughly equal to the life expectancy of a mayfly! Rather than building up an employee for life with upward mobility, they're treated like toilet tissue -- wipe a few times, then flush when a new class of eager faces is ready to be exploited.

In that way, another tidbit of wisdom from GSP Jr works well:

Do everything you ask of those you command.

A good leader doesn't sit back behind the lines -- he's down there in the trenches doing the work alongside his men. ANYTHING else is NOT leadership!!!

They see you in there, fighting the same fights and struggles as they are, promoting the team and trying to solve problems, THEN they will accept you as a leader AND the project should run smoothly. THEN they will not be afraid to come to you when they have a problem, or try to cover it up as they know you will be there to pick them up and dust them off.

FAR too many office environments right now are more about "cover your ass and screw everyone else" -- and that's NOT a healthy environment in which to build a project. YOU MUST BUILD TRUST!

... and to be frank, in my experience trust is a commodity that seems to have all but evaporated from development the past decade and a half; and it gets worse EVERY damned year!