development leadership

Everyone has a voice 

​One of the challenges that Technical Leads face that isn’t always easy to resolve is making sure the whole team is involved in decisions. 

There is a large overlap between people who can think in code and people who are shy around other people. For some, the enthusiasm of the former can overcome the latter, but for many, especially younger members of the team, they need encouragement. 

There are a few key ways to do it. If you’ve built the right team, pairing with a patient mentor, who asks questions, is a good way to build confidence. We all hate it, but asking someone their opinion in a meeting is important too, until they get confident enough to speak up themselves, because they know they’ll be heard. So pick your meetings wisely. 

There’s also non-verbal ways to increase interaction and confidence. I’m a big fan of asynchronous code reviews, because they help people focus on the code rather than the coder. I realise there is a risk that this can lead to an atmosphere where someone being reviewed feels under attack, but in my experience, with ego-less teams, and especially with teams who understand and fight technical debt, they see reviews as a chance to improve the code and their own understanding, and make everyone’s life easier next time they look at that feature. 

Lean Coffee meetings are also good for helping encourage people to suggest ideas, as they can see what others want to talk about, so they know they have something worth dating. 

Make sure the quiet people speak up

8 replies on “Everyone has a voice ”

Also, as pointed out to me on Twitter, to give someone a voice, sometimes you need to silence the usual voices. If you’re one of them, silence yourself to give others a chance to speak without interrupting you.


Nice post, I’d like to hear more about “Coffee Meetings”

I would also suggest regular 1:1 meetings with your team members (I do mine weekly), keep them informal and friendly. This often gives developers the chance to chat about ideas and raise suggestions in their own way – away from the peer pressure of the team.


Liked by 1 person

1:1s are definitely important, I hold the ones with my staff out of the office to maintain informality.

The Lean Coffee format has been going for a few years, but I’ll add a new post talking about how we use it for retrospectives.

Thank you for your comment.


[…] Are your team frustrated by decisions and often blaming others? Is that because you do it too? You’re not going to agree to every decision, but if you were on the room when it was made, or it’s your job to disseminate it, be at peace with the decision. If you can’t live with it, there’s other channels, up to and including leaving, but on your team decisions should be respected. They can be debated, reviewed and changed when circumstances change, but if decisions can’t be respected collectively, you don’t have a team. […]


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