Earlier this week Pat asked, “What are the priorities for a new development manager.”
I side-stepped the question but will return to it over the next few days.
First, let me define how I’ll be using the word “new.”
I will not be talking about someone who’s taking the role for the first time. That is, I assume you are not “new” to engineering leadership.
Instead, I’m going to address the challenge of leading a team that you’ve never been a part of. Thus, you are the team’s “new” manager.
The Four Keys
When taking over a new team, there are four key relationships you must attend to.
Neglecting any of them, or focusing too on a single one, will cause problems.
These are the same four key relationships to leading developers, but when taking over a new team, it’s especially important to work on these four keys first.
Key One: The relationship with yourself
If joining a new team is stressful, then joining as a leader is doubly so. Oh, if you’re also new to the company, multiply it all by 5x.
The stress and unfamiliar territory can throw you off balance. It certainly does throw me off.
You’ll likely meet lots of new people, have new conversations, and might feel like you’re “drinking from the fire hose.”
The best thing you can do for your relationship with yourself is carve out time to think. Give yourself time to process and make sense of everything that’s coming at you. Take the time necessary to consider what kind of leader you aspire to be.
The next best thing you can do is… nothing.
Don’t rush into doing or changing anything.
Instead, take time to see how the team already does things.
There’s a strong temptation to start coding, get the system set up on your machine, start fixing team problems, and making big promises.
That’s a trap to avoid at all costs.
Instead, use your thinking time to rehash and write down your observations.
Doing this allows you to avoid “inflicting help” on your team, and keep yourself level headed.
Tomorrow I’ll send you the second key relationship you must work on when taking over a new team.
Have you got questions? Send ‘em over!
(In December 2018 my email list voted to view ads over a paid subscription to the list. Thanks to GitPrime for their support!)