The Blog of David Gustys


Journey into management

So in the last several years, I have had a chance to work in a management position. Usually, it occurred due to lack of personnel (and someone had to do that job) or as an interim for PO/PM; also I have been lead developer in multiple teams during my career. As always when new challenge arrises (and usually even before that) I try to educate myself via books, expert blog post, video, etc., or even doing formal training. So through these years, I picked up several things of my own and also applied some excellent advice from the material mentioned earlier, which in this post I would like to share.


(1) Let go - Delegate. For me, this was tricky at first, since my background is in engineering and usually I’m doing a task on my own, when I started to delegate my inner perfectionist began to scream. Eventually, I came around, and now I feel that I’m a better communicator and that people tend to more often to ask for my advice. The thing about delegation is that you need to give clear instruction and direction - give helpful resources or show examples if you have them. It may demand more of your time in the short term, but it pays dividends over time, and you will be able to focus your energy on the more important, longer-term projects. Also, don’t overdo it / don’t prescribe, your goal should be to calculated trust your colleague so that they can do their job and grow.

Letting go is tough, and the topic of delegation is significant, some may see that delegation is “power” of management - being able to “shift the blame”, but actually at the end it is you who has ultimate responsibility for the stakeholder.

(2) Be Assertive. From experience, I can tell that there is nothing worse than a manager who is passive and merely sits back and hopes a problem will disappear. The moment you become aware of a critical issue is the moment you should address it, and that sits very well with me as I’m very proactive; Proactive in a way that if I see a problem, I try to resolve it without interrupting teams work if possible. If not - you don’t want to wait before things get out of hand, speak with all of the parties involved and encourage an honest and direct conversation. Those first few minutes might be awkward, but your result will thank you. Also, think about the best way to approach each person to get the information you need and go that route.

(3) Avoid the Buzzzz. This one was easy for me to grasp, as I’ve been on both sides of the fence. As persons, we all have our strengths. A good manager has a gut or educated feeling about those strengths. The other thing is that we need to be engaged if there is someone who is on your toes, i.e., personal fitness trainer - you tend to do much better during your exercise, and that reflects in the result. The same applies to business. In each project and task, you need to define clear expectations and devise a plan to challenge a person, for his own good, his development - just ten more pushups. As is with muscles overdoing is terrible, you need to know the limits and when to give praise, so basically the goal is to prevent people from coasting.

(4) Understanding before strategize. In my career, I have seen many times when a manager or even an executive manager doesn’t fully grasp the project or its scope. We can all agree that this is a mistake, but personally, I think that it is one of biggest mistakes you can do. We all get deadlines, hard ones, soft ones, the ones that are in your head when you think to yourself. The thing is that those deadlines can be meaningless if you don’t understand the project, you might start to push back the senior leadership for the established “deadline”, you might implement something bit different than was expected, and so on. So before you sign-on for a project, be sure that all parties that are involved are on the same page and that all have understanding and grasp of the complexity involved so that correct budget can be allocated and right metrics reported. And yes don’t be afraid always to ask if unclear.

(5) Risk as Team. I think that in today’s everyday changing world risk can no longer be controlled by creating more detailed plans. Today, we must learn to adapt to change rather than attempt to eliminate it or ignore the problems and risks that might arise. In my opinion, whether framework you use be it the waterfall, scrum, etc.., the most critical must, is, to always adopt an agile mindset, as the problems we face in the future might not include a playbook to guide - when you encounter a never-before-seen issue. I found that by communicating with the team about potential risks and how to handle them does not only lead to a better potential risk accumulation, but also makes team members more likely to take responsibility or, and action when a problem arises.

| Tuesday, July 16, 2019
← All Posts