Solve Forward
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How to Mentor Engineering Teams

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Mentoring Engineering Teams

The Backbone

Solvative was founded by engineers, and our Engineering Team is the backbone of our organization. We've grown quickly because of how talented, dedicated, and passionate each member is about building scalable software that solves problems for all our customers; non-profit, startups, from small to enterprise levels. We had all the same questions as everyone learning to manage an Engineering team:

  • What are the critical components of an effective and efficient engineering team?
  • How can engineers learn from feedback and continuously iterate?
  • How does Solvative create a beneficial environment for their engineers?

However, the one thing that we were sure of was how to do it in the most empathetic way? As nearly everyone has read or heard - As does the leader, so does the team. We wanted to create a culture that is open, collaborative, inclusive, curious, and empathetic.

Learning from our past twelve years of successes and failures, we have compiled our learnings in this journal entry for the future Solvers of Solvative.

Learn from feedback, continuously iterate to be better.

Engineers must learn how to take criticism positively so that they can improve their work. Changes need to come about gradually over time, not all at once after one suggestion or remark on the status quo. Engineers need to understand the entire problem before they can work towards a solution; this way, they will provide better solutions that do not include starting from scratch each time—understanding the 'why' is often the most crucial part of learning.

Efficiently solve complex problems with creativity and iteration.

Creativity and iteration are necessary for solving complex problems efficiently, especially when there is no formulaic approach or recipe for success. Problem-solving requires creativity because it may require different techniques to find one that solves the issue at hand with minimal frustration on behalf of any party involved. Experimentation encourages collaboration between team members who have varying expertise, which helps them solve complex problems more effectively - teamwork makes all things possible! Collaborating with Empathy allows us to think critically about what would best benefit our users.

Investigate issues effectively through experimentation, collaboration & Empathy.

The investigation process needs to be open-ended and collaborative. It is essential for the engineer(s) investigating an issue to have a diverse set of skills. They may need help from others with different expertise to find the best solution possible while also being mindful of our users' happiness - it's all about meeting them where the users are!

Asking questions, brainstorming ideas, working closely with other team members on prototypes, or making adjustments as necessary is essential in the problem-solving process. This approach will allow engineers investigating issues to use their creativity so that there are no limits or boundaries when solving problems together using experimentation and collaboration. Collaborating effectively means listening well and communicating clearly, resulting in finding solutions faster than going solo without any help.

A Problem Solver should never be micromanaged. The path to a solution can be via many wrong decisions, but each decision is a learning event, an iteration towards the solution.

Work with Passion

The Solvative engineering team has always been focused on solving complex problems. The people are intelligent, curious individuals who want to make a difference in the world. They are passionate about building software that solves complex problems for our customers, and they take pride in their work. As an engineering leader at Solvative, one of my goals is to create an environment where this team can do its best work.

The promise of Digital Transformation requires a team to ideate and solve at its finest. With each new idea, there is inertia to overcome, processes to be re-engineered, people to be reassured. But, our team does it with intelligence and purpose.

To deliver on that promise, the engineering team is a fundamental part of the organization's success in solving complex problems through innovation, impacting society by developing user-friendly, scalable software for our enterprise customers, and solving complex issues simultaneously. These Engineers take pride in their work because they genuinely believe that this will change people's lives for the better. As an engineer at Solvative, one of our goals is to create an environment where all these talented minds can come together and do what they love - solve challenging problems!

Empathy towards other team members

We also wanted to create a culture where people can have honest conversations with their team members without the fear of judgment or reprisal. To combat this issue, we work hard on maintaining open lines of communication within our teams and across disciplines for everyone to feel comfortable speaking up about what's working and not working (and why). We encourage engineers to take leadership roles when appropriate so they can help mentor others on how best to solve problems together. An essential aspect of any project at Solvative is that different team members take the lead in planning a future sprint or various modules. This ensures a continuous practice of foresight and deep thought by each team member. We do this by encouraging an environment where people can learn from their mistakes to solve complex problems better. Solvative takes pride in the fact that we're constantly learning through iteration, trying out new things, and always innovating. There are no wrong decisions at Solvative — only teaching events.

Mentoring the future

Another essential aspect that has helped us grow is investing heavily in mentorship programs and apprenticeship opportunities at Solvative, helping grow our Solvers. Individuals can learn from experienced mentors who have been in their shoes before. We spend a lot of time and energy growing our Solvers.

People ask us, what if they leave after learning all the things you teach them? We reply, "But what if they stay?

We have had the pleasure of working closely with other companies and our clients on mentorship, which has helped us learn and grow as a company too. We are grateful for our mentors and apprentices who have taken time out of their busy schedules to teach others at Solvative about different engineering topics or new technologies that come up periodically throughout our work life cycle. An Engineering team has to learn from all sources; everyone around you is a teacher.

Engineering teams should value creativity, critical thinking skills, Empathy, open-mindedness, and collaboration among our team members because these all help solve problems efficiently by learning from feedback and iterating continuously.

Every day, Solvative's engineering team solves hard problems at the intersection of people and technology. We work to create an environment where our engineers are empowered to do their best work: they learn from feedback and iterates continuously; they solve complex problems with innovative solutions because this is what we promise our customers who believe in Digital Transformation; Empathy towards other team members is a core value so that everyone feels comfortable speaking up about any issue without fear of reprisal. Together, as one strong unit, we're confident in solving challenges for years to come!

If you have questions about digital transformation that you’d like for us to cover, please email contact@solveforward.com or @solveforward on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!