Software teams often have roles with well-established responsibilities. Having a specific title on a team — whether that’s tech lead, developer, or something else — doesn’t mean you can only work on tasks in your lane. If you want to create a fulfilling role for yourself on your software team, here are some tips for doing it.
Find your niche.
Tell your team what you want to work on. What tasks are most fulfilling to you? For some people, being able to dive into new technologies is rewarding. Similarly, other developers might like to crush difficult bugs. Once you establish yourself as the go-to person for these tasks, your team will know they can rely on you for this work.
One thing to avoid when becoming the subject matter expert for something on a software team is creating a knowledge silo. Make sure that you’re spreading the knowledge around the team. This is a great opportunity to flex your teaching skills on the team, and you might even discover some of your blind spots.
If you see something that needs doing, do it.
Oftentimes on a software team, things that need doing are referred to as tech debt. It’s technical cleanup that needs to be done to maintain the health of a codebase. However, more pressing work such as features and bug fixes can overshadow the need to clear up tech debt. Find ways to fit this technical debt into your feature work or see if you can fit it between stories. Having someone on the team who can stay on top of tech debt is incredibly valuable.
This works the same for non-technical tasks as well. If there are processes on your team that could improve, take it upon yourself to propose a change to the team. Other people may have felt the pain caused by an existing process, so the team is likely to welcome the change.
Ask how you can help.
At times it’s not obvious how you can find new ways to contribute to your team. If you don’t have creative ideas or there aren’t any clear tasks you can take on, ask the rest of the team how you can do more.
Sometimes teammates have too much work on their shoulders but don’t necessarily ask for help. Offer to assist the team with various tasks. As a result, this opens an opportunity for them to delegate some of their work to you.
Possessing a certain role on a software team doesn’t mean you can’t seek out tasks that don’t fit your title. Teams perform best when everyone is given the chance to accomplish work that is fulfilling to them.