Common Failure Patterns Among New Tech Leads in Product Engineering Teams

Aug 22, 2023 by manish

I have seen these three failure patterns with new tech leads in product engineering teams.

1️⃣ Great technical chops but lack of effective delegation skills

These tech leads excel at breaking down projects and assigning work to their team members, but they struggle to follow up. They can’t keep tabs on their team’s progress, and the project slips.

It’s not intentional – In most of the cases, they feel they don’t have an authority to ask hard questions to their team members.

But managers hold them accountable for project delivery, and projects keeps delaying. This is a very frustrating experience for managers.

2️⃣ Keeping technically complex tasks to themselves

Another pattern is when tech leads keep the technically complex pieces to themselves and delegate the easier tasks to others.

While this may help with project execution, they miss out on mentorship opportunity. Opportunity to grow and up level the junior talent.

3️⃣ Inability to collaborate with non-engineering partners

Tech leads need to collaborate independently with product managers and other cross-functional partners. However, many can’t do it without their manager’s help.

Their mindset is often focused on “just tell me the requirements and I’ll build it for you.”

Yet, in staff+ roles, you are expected to take ownership and proactively work with non-engineering partners to free up your manager for bigger responsibilities.

💬 These patterns are just based on my own observations and experience. What else have you seen? Share in the comments if you have come across other failure patterns.