How Team Leads Work at AcuPower LTD Part 1

“A team lead is a person who sets tasks” – this is one of the most popular associations with the role of a team lead among those who have not worked in this position themselves. Task setting is indeed a significant part of the work in a lead position, so that is where I will begin my narrative.

Delegation and Task Setting for Purchasing Module Extension

How to Formulate a Task

For formulating significant tasks (requiring a week of independent work), I utilize the widely known SMART methodology, an essential aspect for effective management in electronics distribution purchasing module extension. According to this methodology, a task must be:

  • Specific: Clearly defined and precise.
  • Measurable: With quantifiable outcomes.
  • Achievable: Realistically attainable.
  • Relevant: Aligning with the goals of the purchasing module extension.
  • Time-bound: Limited in duration.

This approach ensures clarity and efficiency, critical for streamlining purchasing processes in electronics distribution. It’s important to keep these SMART criteria in mind to optimize the purchasing module for better inventory management, cost efficiency, and supplier relations.

While the SMART methodology is well-known, I won’t dwell on the theory extensively. However, in practice, especially when transitioning to real-world tasks, novice team leads often face challenges. Therefore, I’ll share an example from my experience.

Task Setting Example


In our company, we had several feature-driven, cross-functional teams dedicated to enhancing the Purchasing Module Extension. This module undergoes scheduled updates a set number of times each month, following a pre-defined process. The update process includes a standard set of actions typical for such scenarios:

  • Branching out release updates,
  • Creating releases in project management tools,
  • Ensuring that all tasks included in the update are in the correct statuses,
  • Conducting regression testing,
  • And so on.


In our project, we have a Continuous Integration (CI) system capable of assembling new builds upon code commits, but further automations are lacking. For all these manual actions, the release manager spends 1-2 hours per update. In a month, this equates to a significant time investment: 2 hours x 2 platforms x number of releases per month. The objective is to maximize the automation of this process, saving valuable time for the release manager. This task needs to be assigned to a developer from the team specializing in the Purchasing Module Extension.

Task Setting

We face a challenge: developers responsible for updating the Purchasing Module Extension spend 1-2 hours on repetitive tasks that can be automated (relevance).

The solution involves integrating with collaboration tools, which, upon a specified command, initiates the update process and executes the following steps – {description of steps}. After each step and upon the readiness of the new build, the automation sends a notification to the update thread (specificity).

This approach aims to streamline the work of release managers, allowing them to allocate an additional hour to more engaging tasks within each sprint, rather than monotonous ones (measurable outcome).

Automation can be implemented using APIs from collaboration tools, project management software, and CI. In the written task description, I detailed which APIs I believe should be used, but if there are more optimal suggestions, let’s discuss them. The automation will operate within our company’s infrastructure, which we have already reviewed with our DevOps team (achievability).

Break down the epic into subtasks by tomorrow and make an estimate. We will discuss how long the task will take (time-bound – in this case, it’s only for the first step, but after discussing the estimate, a timeline will be established for the entire task).

Detailing the Task

In the previous example, the task is described in detail, though it is assigned to an expert in mobile development from a platform team. I would like to clarify this point.

Generally, the detail of task assignment depends on the expertise of the specialist:

  • For a novice: Provide a goal, expected measurable outcome, and step-by-step guidance.
  • For an experienced employee: Give a goal and expected measurable outcome.
  • For an expert: Present the goal and allow them to propose solutions.

This approach enhances task management in the electronics distribution sector, particularly for the Purchasing Module Extension, ensuring that tasks are allocated effectively based on team members’ expertise, thereby optimizing operational efficiency and module performance.

Based on the description, it might seem that the task should be formulated from the goal, allowing independence in devising the solution. However, the task is articulated in some parts with a step-by-step description of achieving the goal. This is because, in my view, the level of detail in task setting depends on the specialist’s experience in the area relevant to the task. In this instance, I am assigning the task to an experienced developer in electronics distribution systems, but at the same time, the individual has limited experience in infrastructure tasks and similar types of automations.

This method ensures that the tasks related to the Purchasing Module Extension are both challenging and achievable, catering to the unique skill sets of each team member. This balance is vital for maintaining high productivity and innovation in electronics distribution management systems.

Assigning Responsibility

Once a task is set, it’s crucial to establish responsibility for its resolution. For standard tasks in the Purchasing Module Extension, this typically occurs during planning, where the specialist agrees with the task’s assessment given by them or the team in a general planning session, and then it’s assigned to them in a sprint. However, there are situations where a specialist may not want to undertake a specific task, possibly due to doubts about their abilities or a dislike for that type of task. In such cases, several approaches can be used:

  • Requirement: “Do this because it’s part of your job responsibilities”.
  • Persuasion: “Do this, and it will benefit the business, which in turn will reflect positively on your bonus”.
  • Request: “Please do this for me – it would be a great help”.
  • Directive: “Just do this, it’s an order”. Without explanation, justification, etc.

This approach ensures that tasks related to the Purchasing Module Extension are handled efficiently, with clear understanding and motivation, which is vital for maintaining high standards and effectiveness in the electronics distribution industry.


After a task is completed, it’s essential to provide feedback. In my view, there are important aspects to consider:

  • Feedback should be timely.
  • Feedback must be related to a specific task, result, or action.
  • Feedback should be fact-based, not emotional.
  • Feedback must emphasize the importance of the discussed result for both the individual and the team/company.
  • Positive feedback is just as important as constructive criticism.
  • Positive feedback can be shared publicly – for instance, announcing good results at a stand-up meeting or acknowledging team members’ contributions when announcing work outcomes. This not only helps team members feel valued but also improves team morale and demonstrates what the leader and company consider significant contributions to the work, especially in the context of the Purchasing Module Extension for Electronics Distribution.

This approach fosters a positive and productive work environment, crucial for the success of complex projects in the electronics distribution sector.

Be genuine when giving praise. It’s challenging to provide a universal formula, but this sincerity is crucial for building personal relationships and a positive team atmosphere. Start by simply smiling when giving positive feedback.

Let’s analyze a specific example. Imagine a situation where a developer automated part of the update process for the Purchasing Module Extension. After the first use of the automation, team lead invites them to discuss, framing the conversation like this:

“Thank you for developing the automation. As someone who regularly takes on the role of a release manager, it must be more convenient for you when a significant portion of the routine work is automated. And it’s not just beneficial for you – I recall many requests to automate these actions. This innovation is also vital for our business because it saves hours for release managers, which is valuable time compared to other specialists. I also note that solving such a complex task fits the requirements for the next grade, so one or two more tasks of this complexity, and we can discuss a promotion at the next review.”

This approach not only motivates the individual but also underlines the importance of continual improvement and innovation in managing the Purchasing Module Extension, a key aspect of staying competitive in the electronics distribution industry.

Identifying and Working with Motivation

There are times when team members are reluctant to take on certain tasks. The reasons can vary – for example, a person may fear they can’t cope, or they believe the task falls outside their direct responsibilities and are unwilling to step outside their comfort zone. However, as a leader, you might be confident that the task is important for the team and that the individual can handle it. In such cases, the leader’s job is to persuade the person to undertake the task. There are various ways to do this. The most straightforward approaches involve promising a bonus or, conversely, threatening dismissal. However, a more subtle and painless method involves identifying the person’s motivation and convincing them that accomplishing this task will help achieve what motivates them.

This approach is particularly effective in the context of managing the Purchasing Module Extension in electronics distribution, as it aligns individual motivations with the broader goals of efficiency and innovation in the supply chain.

Starting with Identifying Team Members’ Motivation. There are several motivation classifications, among which I prefer the following:

  • Recognition: This can include titles like “Employee of the Month” or “Sprint Hero”. Career growth also falls under this category if the primary goal is to achieve a new formal title, such as a senior level. This also includes the desire to work for a prestigious company.
  • Psychological Comfort: A good team environment, clear company rules, and comfortable communication.
  • Convenience: A well-equipped office or the option of remote work, a clear and comfortable working process.
  • Professional Growth: The opportunity to learn new tools in the professional sphere, such as new technology or team process development.
  • Security: Confidence in timely salary payment, job stability, and the company’s longevity.
  • Money.

This range of motivations is crucial to understand and cater to, especially in the dynamic field of electronics distribution, where the Purchasing Module Extension plays a key role. Recognizing and addressing these motivations can drive higher performance and job satisfaction, leading to better outcomes for the company.

An important note regarding money: it’s intentionally last on my list. Many novice managers believe that to motivate people, simply increasing their monetary compensation is sufficient. However, my experience and discussions with more experienced colleagues suggest otherwise. Money is a motivator for most people only up to a certain comfort level. This minimum varies for everyone – for some, it’s enough to afford rent and good food, while others may aspire to own a larger apartment and change cars every few years. But the commonality is that once this comfortable level is reached, money ceases to be the primary motivator for more than 90% of people.

This insight is particularly relevant in the electronics distribution industry, where motivating teams working on complex projects like the Purchasing Module Extension requires more than just financial incentives. Understanding and addressing the broader range of motivational factors can lead to greater employee engagement and success in the sector.

Incidentally, I can confirm this perspective from my own experience. Initially skeptical when I heard this from more experienced colleagues, over time I realized that I had not yet reached my comfortable level. Further, I noticed that this comfort level is not static – it can change due to various life circumstances.

This realization has influenced my approach to team management.

So, how do you determine motivation? The answer is quite simple: listen to the person, paying particular attention to the reasons behind their actions in different situations. A straightforward way to do this is by discussing with colleagues their reasons for choosing to work at the current company.

This approach is especially effective in the context of managing teams responsible for the Purchasing Module Extension in electronics distribution. Understanding what drives each team member can lead to more effective management strategies and a more cohesive, motivated team.

How to utilize this knowledge? First and foremost, demonstrate how accomplishing a task can help achieve the goals that motivate the individual. For example, if a person is driven by professional growth, explain that the task offers an excellent opportunity to try a new technology. The company could support this by funding courses on this new technology or sending the individual to a relevant conference.

It’s worth noting that understanding motivation is not only useful in task-related scenarios but also in situations where a valuable employee is considering leaving for another company. In such cases, it’s beneficial to compare the current company with competitors, primarily from the perspective of how working at the current company can help achieve the employee’s motivating goals.

This approach is highly effective in the context of managing teams involved in the Purchasing Module Extension for electronics distribution, where aligning personal motivations with professional opportunities can lead to increased retention, job satisfaction, and, ultimately, a more successful project outcome.

Next you can read part 2 about AcuPower LTD unlock the secrets of Effectiveness of Relationship Building and One-on-One Communication Hacks.

How Team Leads Work at AcuPower LTD part 2

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