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Letters to a Young Manager

Letting Go, #11
LTYM > Managing People II

Dear Adam,
So you are very good at writing code. In fact, it's why you got your first management job. Now you are leading a small group of programmers. Congratulations!

I remember being in a similar role. My team had a high profile application to write for mid-tier investors. We had to divided up the code into functional groups and assigned owners. Kathy had the Portfolio Input Environment, or PIE for short. She was good.

The pressure to deliver the system was building, so one night I review the code, including the PIE modules. I saw some improvements that could be made and edited the code. That was a new manager error.

The next morning, Kathy was furious.
"Who owns writing the PIE code," she asked.
"You do," I confirmed.
"Then you need to let me write it."

She was right. I had committed the first sin of management; I thought that since I was more experienced, perhaps better and faster, I could step in and do it whenever the project needed help. Wrong. To be effective in a new role, as a manager and leader, I needed to let my team do it.

I'll never forget the look on her face that morning. And I learned to value the satisfaction she and every member of the team felt in getting their work done.

So be careful what you do to "help" the team.



Delegating means delegating ownership and letting go

Discussion Questions:

1) If you know the answers, how do you communicate criticism? (hint: ask, don't tell; or worse, do)
2) Is feeling a sense of ownership of the project important? Why?
3) In the case where the manager steps in and makes the correction or directs it, who is responsible if the system fails?
4) Is ownership of a system and individual or a team matter? Why?

For Further Reading:

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