7 tips for effective leadership in software development
How can one switch to a different field of work in software development? What are the necessary leadership qualities your team needs? What are the key factors in running a company successfully and bringing in new work?
Pour some coffee, put on some relaxing music and join us for the second episode of The Hüb where Veljko Savić shares the valuable experience he obtained while working as Head of Workplace and Communication at Zühlke. This position entails responsibility for managing and directing internal and external communications as well as effective solutions to support workplace sustainability, business strategies and growth.
Insight in brief
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How taking a step back helps you move forward in your career?
My career as Head of Workplace and Communication is heading in the course of helping my colleagues grow and develop their aspirations. I like this coaching approach. I’ve worked with tech support and systems for ten years and I realized it got too comfortable and I stopped having fun with it.
Zühlke Serbia had around 40 employees back then. Their work was revolving around location distribution, GDC. They needed someone with a wide array of knowledge related to systems who can be a bridge towards the rest of the company. Some people wondered why I degraded myself professionally by accepting that offer at Zühlke. Growth is not always linear, sometimes it`s necessary to take one step back in order to take two steps forward.
After 15 years of experience in tech support, I decided to put an end to operations and focus on supporting my colleagues with whom I grew and developed up until that point. My focus now is to improve and take care of the company’s quality and advancement. People and their satisfaction are my number one priority.
Learn what companies need to function successfully
It’s important that people do quality work. Let’s also take into consideration that circumstances have changed due to COVID.
- One of the first things is workspace – ours is a modern digital workspace. It allows for resource management of our company no matter where we are in the world, with respect to our company policy (security, business requests). COVID has shown us that buildings and numbers of floors are not of such importance for some work environments, especially when it comes to intellectual work. It’s alright to use that opportunity today, but not at the cost of human interaction. Thanks to all my colleagues, we were fully prepared for a smooth transition from the office building to home offices long before COVID-19.
- It is also important to be one step ahead of everyone else and garner new work. Why? Because we wish to give equal opportunities to everyone. If a candidate from Mauritius fits the needs of our application, he could be employed for an unlimited amount of time, or we could work with people from different continents simultaneously (respecting the security and policy of the company). You don’t need to be narrow-minded about this, use the full potential of od communication and information technologies instead.
How does the work nowadays differ from the past?
Obtaining knowledge in terms of quality resources and literature was more difficult. To keep up the pace with the rest of the world was challenging as well, it was almost unthinkable back then. While everyone else used optical network, we used telephone lines in Serbia. The ones with money could afford a back-up connection by instaling GPRS and fiddling the AT commands.
If we compare past and present conditions, we can say that people had to be more attentive to how they used the tools at their disposal. Nowadays, it often doesn`t really matter how you do something as long as it works. In the past, 1MB in the process used to made a difference whether something would work or not. Somehow we forgot how much power the computers we use have.
However, these days we often disregard the environment where the final product will end up. The companies that develop the prototypes have ideal surroundings (laboratory environment), there is a 10 GB communication between computers... A product must be tested in an environment for which the product is intended. It’s of the essence.
Technologies and problem-solving methods have progressed immensely in the last fifteen years. Somehow, new generations always discover what has been learned and proven long ago but that`s the process I guess. Resources can be managed according to wanted speeds and quality of performance or the established budgets.
How important is data protection?
It’s a matter of perception. Let’s put ourselves in the role of the person in charge of data leakage. You always need to ask yourself what is it that we protect and how much it would cost us to lose it. Assessing the risk we wish to allow is the most important.
We are a type of company that pays a lot of attention to downgrading the security risk which we’re aware of. It is a natural continuation of the modern working environment narrative. The company wants to protect endpoints, communication channels, and core network. We also take care of the safety of our clients (communication and projects). We are one of those companies that solve everything in the pre-boot phase.
What can you learn from leading a team?
I am speaking as someone who came from a conventional environment, where we all worked in an office together. These days offices are mainly virtual. The communication used to be more relaxed and spontaneous, therefore the brainstorming sessions and ideas exchange was running more smoothly. Today this is done by starting a thread, which can make the time to initiate a basic form of communication a bit longer.
The situation becomes more complex when you consider that the team works remotely from UK, Switzerland, Germany, Serbia and soon Austria. It is a challenge to achieve the perfect synergy of the team when you consider that we all relate to English in a different way. Another challenge is to keep up with everybody’s rhythm, and know when things are more relaxed and more intense.
You need to achieve a level of communication so that you work in a healthy working environment in which transparency is never put in question. However, that is a challenge I’m constantly facing. It is important to emphasize that I am not alone in this, that is why I am so grateful to my team and Group IT colleagues as well.
I try to make decisions along with my team as often as I can, depending on how complex the challenge is ahead of us. Also, I try to avoid situations where I have to put my foot down or boss people around, it would be a failure on my part and a sign of poor leadership. It would just mean I didn’t prepare the team for the project or certain activity properly. The complexity of activity, duration, stakeholders influence, priorities, daily tasks and obtaining new work - It all a part of our mutual effort.
I realized that the pandemic has brought us nothing new when it comes to the remote work of the team. We managed to maintain our regular pace. This was easier to achieve when compared with the companies that have a conventional office system.
What is the biggest challenge in your daily work?
A well-rounded communication is always a challenge, whether it is a matter of the project, production release, any value, testing...If something doesn’t turn out right in the end, it always turns out that it is due to faulty communication. If this happens, it is important not just to realize why, but also how not to let that happen again.
It is essential to understand the environment where we are, whether it is a service-oriented or a product-oriented one. At the end of the day, IT is there to support a business. Sometimes a business requires from IT to be a step ahead of others when it comes to technology, and sometimes to just maintain and improve an already existing environment. There is room for learning and growth either way.
The quality of communication can also determine whether my response to something will be reactive or proactive. How much a person working in IT should understand and be involved in the business is a very important question these days! We live in an era of capitalism after all.
If you don’t have a good communication, everything fails – both, the work and the idea. That is why it’s important that each side has clear expectations from one another.
They don’t teach you this at college. It’s rather an abstract skill. I wouldn’t know how to put it into words. Your effort to correct a mistake, ask the right question and to obtain and share new knowledge is important.
How to improve your job performance?
Whatever you do in your life, whether you like it or not - how well you deal with responsibility and how you deal with each and every task tomorrow is what matters, and serves as a basis for how others perceive you. That’s how you earn respect in your work environment.
Imagine your work is so good that it becomes a foundation for future work in that field. That is priceless. You can always do something faster, better, and with more quality, but sometimes you just need to do it and adjust things later. I like validating myself with colleagues and get the right impression about challenges, so that we can solve it together and better. I believe this to be a true hallmark of leadership. That is an advantage of a corporate environment and joint value.
Here’s a tip: believe in your colleagues and encourage their most positive traits. In such an environment, the system will become very successful and omnipotent.
Thinking about your inability to solve something is a trap, it makes people unwillingly toxic. People should be more respectful towards each other, then technology, and everything else which follows will be more humane than it is today.