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A bit more about that first key relationship…

Last week I told you there were 4 key relationships to attend to when you’re taking over a new team.

You can read the first post here: Key One: The relationship with yourself

In my excitement I forgot to mention an important element of the first key.

You’ve got to stop managing, and start leading.

The first time I took over a new team I sat down with the past Team Lead, outlined their process on the whiteboard, and took pictures of it. Then I spent a few hours getting it into a Visio flowchart.

Next I met with the team and walked them through it. “This is how you do things, right?”

They silently nodded their heads.

“Great”, I thought, “we’re all in agreement.”

A month later I’m sitting with my boss, frustrated that nothing’s gotten done.

“It’s easy to see how the process works, and the last Team Lead is the one who gave me the process. Yet nothing’s getting done. I don’t understand why they won’t just do the process as it’s laid out?”

Thus, I used the tried and true management approach of calling another meeting to discuss the process.

This meeting was more pointed, and I was less, ahem, graceful.

“People, this isn’t that hard. All we have to do is follow the process and we’ll ship on-time. You’ve got to trust the process. I assume the problem is that you don’t really understand it, so let’s go through it again…”

Finally, Gus spoke up from the back.

“Boss, saying we’ll be successful ‘if we just use the process’ is like telling a relay team they’ll win the big race if they ‘run fast and pass the baton.’ It seems helpful and smart, but it’s actually neither. Your process looks good on paper because that’s the only place it actually exists: on paper. The real world is more complicated.”

Leaving that meeting I realized that I’d been trying to manage the process, not lead my team.

Instead of building followers and inspiring loyalty, I’d looked like a clueless boss and created resentment.

Which was, of course, the opposite of who I wanted to be.

Final thought

Yes, you have a process. We all do.

Yes, it’s important to understand it and use it. It’s a tool that your team needs.

But your job is not to manage the process – it’s to lead the people.

Once that sinks in, you’re ready for the second key, which is coming soon.

Be a better boss than I was back then – your team will thank you.


About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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