Lesson #4: On Letting Go
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On Letting Go
Coming in strong this morning with the dramatics with the subject of this lesson.
Delegation is one of the areas I see rising EMs (i.e. those who moved from IC to EM) struggle with the most, especially early on in their career as an EM and if they moved up in the ranks of their original team. There are two things I see happen:
You don’t delegate enough (e.g. “I can just get this done myself much faster”), or
You try to delegate too much.
Delegating effectively is going to look different from one leader to the next based on your company’s expectations of you (e.g. are you still coding while also managing some folks?), your team’s skillset, and prioritization of work.
But what if they mess up? Won’t it look bad on me? Nope - and you shouldn’t be uncomfortable every time you delegate. Delegating means you’re putting the trust in the employee to complete the work, but you don’t control what actually gets done – and this is a very important point. Delegation is one of the best opportunities to level up your team, but this means they will also mess up. They’re also most likely not going to do the work the same way you may have. Let them do it their own way and maybe get it wrong. Let them learn from their mistakes.
To avoid confusion and possibly prevent getting the task, wrong, make sure you give as much context as possible to complete the task. This includes any details or background about the work, the due date, expectations, the desired outcome, and perhaps guidance on how they can get the work done. Invest time in training your team to be able to take on these tasks. Don’t just assign someone a task in Jira and expect them to figure it out on their own. You wouldn’t want to be set up for failure.
Lastly – and this is SO important – please give credit where credit’s due. If you delegate a task to one of your team members and they do a phenomenal job, make sure they get the recognition for that work.
What I’m reading
I finished The Coaching Habit and definitely recommend it! Copying my review from my Book List:
Summary: The Coaching Habit is a concise book covering seven questions you should add to your management repertoire, starting with “What’s on your mind” and ending with “What has been most useful for you”. This book serves as a framework for forming your own coaching habit.
Why I recommend it: This is one of those books that can and should be read by everyone if only because it will make us all more effective communicators. Whether you’re on the asking or responding side, knowing what questions to ask and how to respond will make your conversations flow more productive. This book is a super quick read!
I’m now reading Team Topologies - good context, but I’m a little confused on the ordering of the chapters. It seems based on what you need you can read the sections in different orders but that just sort of breaks my cover-to-cover brain. It’s good so far, though!
Check out the full book list for recommendations and an ever-growing reading list.
Note: Links to books in this section are affiliate links to help support the purchase of the rest of my books :)
What I’m working on
I often feel like a lot of my work is trial and error, and this week is no exception. Last week I finally figured out how to best rearrange our 14 engineers to create clearer swim lanes for each pod and leave room for growth. This week is the first full week in these new pods with tech leads assigned to each, so I’m spending most of my time on documenting processes and clearing up confusion.
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