New Leads Need to Prep for Staffing Conversations

August 5, 2022
Software team at table

One of the things I did terribly as a new lead was participate in staffing conversations for my team. Mainly, I was just unprepared in realizing the scope of what adding or removing a person meant on the distribution of responsibilities that a single team has to balance. In this blog post, you’ll find a few things I’d like to keep in mind the next time I have to provide input on a team change. I’ve categorized them by type of staffing change.

Initializing a New Team

  1. What role do you need me to fill on the team?
  2. Who do we need to add for the Product responsibilities?
  3. Who do we need to add for the Process responsibilities?
  4. Who do we need to add for the Technical responsibilities?
  5. Who will be able to support me in teaching and guiding each team member?

And when you have a roster assembled…

  1. Who has prior experience with facilitating meetings?
  2. Who has prior experience with Technical Leadership?
  3. Who has prior experience with the tech stack of this project?
  4. Who has prior experience with communicating with clients?
  5. Do we know of any existing personality incompatibilities that we might have to watch out for?

Adding A New Teammate (when it wasn’t the team’s idea)

  1. Can the team say no to this change or is it happening anyway?
  2. Why is this person being added?
  3. What training will they need?
  4. Who do I have on the team who can help with that training?
  5. What roles does this person have experience with?
  6. And can we lean on them for support/feedback in those areas?

Removing a Teammate

When it was the team’s idea…

  1. Is this person needing to leave because of a team issue?
  2. Can that issue be resolved in another way?
  3. What external support do I have available to help mitigate this issue?

When the teammate wanted a new team…

  1. Is this person needing to leave because of a team issue? (if so we need to triage and make sure we understand what happened)
  2. Is this person leaving because they have a new professional development opportunity? (if so we should celebrate with them!)
  3. What do we need to do to make sure our team is getting what they need?

When the client needs to scale down the project…

  1. Why are they scaling down?
  2. Do we have any influence in this decision?
  3. What responsibilities does the team have?
  4. Will we still have the support we need to handle all of those responsibilities?


👋 Hope you find this list useful! Feel free to reach out and let me know what you’d add or remove from the list.