Tech leaders and engineering managers have probably one of the most schizophrenic and ambitious role.
If you are in such a position, you may know why...
Let's start by telling what some tasks and responsibilities this roles entail.
If there was just one word to describe it, I would call them "foreman".
Because they basically set the direction for the team and making sure everyone understands and follows major technical and non-technical decisions.
This may sound simple, but it isn't.
On your engineering team you need to establish psychological safety, with mentoring your team members by inspiring and guiding them.
You need to take ownership of your decisions.
The motivation of the team members needs always to be fed also by providing an environment that encourages (personal) development. This may basically create a strong team culture.
Manage and resolve difficult conversations with the team members, by setting clear goals and expectations. This will give your team more clarity. Also hiring the right talent is crucial.
And since remote working / home office is becoming more and more common, you also need to handle knowledge transfer and promote efficient coding with distributed workforces.
One of the imortant virtues is your and your team's adaptability. Balancing speed and quality and maintaining productivity and velocity. At the same time improving the team performance by defining it and aligning it to the business.
Oh yes, the business... Such a person needs to become an expert not only in communicating with its technical team, but also with the nontechnical business stakeholders.
For sure resolving customer issues is also important. The delicate balancing what engineers like to do versus what needs to be done.
Somehow manage the too often existing mentality that one group works on "the business" and the other works on the "code" or the "release", by trying to "connect" the work that the engineers do to the business.
Often feeling disconnected from the actual coding work.
They no longer have peers who can trade-notes with, problem-solve, and empathize with... feeling alone.
In the eyes of your team they’re "the business" and in the eyes of the executives "those coders".
Directly in the middle of the tension between the business sides and the technical side of the company.
Your team is insisting that something needs to be refactored first – long overdue tech debt that is piling up and your superior is on you to ship something by an unreasonable date.
The financial department is saying the headcount is limited, and promoting your overperforming engineer is no longer possible, because not in the budget anymore.
The head of business management obligates you to finish a feature that just doesn’t work.
The sales manager is indirectly expressing negative feelings by questioning why your team is working on a specific feature and not what they heard about from sales news.
The program manager is asking you for a list of every engineer working on a specific project.
The localization manager is telling you, your team should have submitted the source language texts 3 month ago. And you try to explain that 3 month ago, the complete feature was not required and not specified at all.
And your team is soberingly trying to convince you that they can't do a feature freeze since they're developing with the agile methodology.
So you're trying to manage also the tension between the development team and translation team.
Do you start to recognize what I mean?
And to put the cherry on top, you can't go to the head of sales to say the program manager is on your case and that your team is refusing to develop a feature.
You can't tell the customer, the next release will come with unverified texts and no translations, because the localization team and product development team work with different process methodologies.
Tech team leaders / engineering managers are alone!
While this may seem a bit of a caricature of the challenges of the competitive engineering lead roles, I'm sure that certain situations are familiar to you in one form or another.
Of course, I don't have an all-encompassing solution to improve this, but I do have a specific suggestion for resolving a particular center of tension.
- The developers work as usual on their features and create strings on-the-fly. Those new texts get's automatically pushed as missing strings to the translation management system (TMS).
- The translators work on new translations and can instantaneously validate the translations.
- Since translations are "connected" directly to your software product, they can be released at any time. This way you can also fix translations of your previously released product, without having to redeploy it.
If you do so, you have to make sure you can have more than one version of your translations; at least one for the current released version and one for the current development branch. That way your technical writers and translators can take care of the translations from the first day and keep up with changes with ease. By doing this, it is even possible to change or add translations without shipping a new release of your software! You may also want to have some reviewing workflow, a history, integrated ordering of external translations, context information, etc...
Cool this will for sure calm down some tensions, but isn't this a little over the top... an extra tooling and deployment — does not all this just add more complexity and effort?
You don’t have to build this yourself!!! — There is locize!
locize removes the pain in the translation process. No more delays in shipping your software because of missing translations. Translators can keep up with changes from day one. The continuous localization process keeps up with your demanding business.
By using locize, tech team leader / engineering manager enables collaboration to bridge the gap between localization and development. This makes you faster, more efficient and saves you money overall. Just start with the free trial. There's no harm... Try everything, set up your locize project, compare it with your existing process and validate it with your team members.
Watch the demo video to learn more about it:
btw: If you're already using the open source internationalization (i18n) framework i18next, then you are already using locize's best partner. Because locize was created by the maintainers of i18next. Integrating i18next with locize is even easier.