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Project management problems: Team leader not sharing information

Software projects can become unproductive or even inoperable because of bad managerial decisions. Expert Bas de Baar describes several project management problems and how teams can handle them.

How do I persuade the Team Leader to share the information about new areas of research required by the team? In the present setup only the concerned developer knows the topic and the other developers do not have a clue about what is going on in the project.

Your question is very valid and your situation is a very common, very serious problem within projects. Sadly, as motivations of individuals are, well, determined by a certain individual, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact problem within your situation. The best I can do is provide you with some pointers on how to assess your own situation.

First of all, let's look at the reasons why the team leader should share the information:

  • With more people, you have more thinking power. Solving problems is easier, because there are more people to offer solutions.
  • By spreading knowledge the team is more resilient against personal turnover or sudden illness of some key players.
  • Involving people in the broader perspective is a proven motivational tool and a good team-builder.

So without too much hassle, your team leader would get all those great benefits. And still he doesn't? What might be the problem?

A. He just doesn't know this kind of stuff. He is not aware of how people operate in teams. He might used to be a good developer who has turned team lead; and most of the time tech people are not even aware of these kinds of socio-psycho touchy-feely stuff.
B. He relates his own power from the fact that he is the only one who has the overall view, the only one who knows it all. He enjoys being the guy to call whp knows all the information from the top of his head. Share the knowledge and lose your reason to be the only one.

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C. He really doesn't trust his team. He thinks that they are substandard developers who need to be micro managed. He would have loved to do everything himself, only the amount of work doesn't let him.

Do any of these reasons ring a bell? I imagine so. They are the most common reasons. For every situation there is a different solution:

A. Just make him aware. But subtly, please!
B. Support him in the role of being the number one communicator. But start sharing info among the developers yourself, and provide the team lead with additional knowledge he didn't know yet. Show Mr. Know-It-All he can be a bigger star while sharing and involving the team.
C. There is a serious trust problem. If possible, switch team or team lead.

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