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Stepping in without Stepping in it

When things go wrong, you might have to step in.

I did this most often when failure was going to be a BigProblem.

And things often improved. The project got back on track, the client didn’t fire us, or we hit the big deadline.

As you might expect, this made me feel pretty darn good. After all, I’d saved the day (at least in my eyes.)

The trick, I learned, was not stepping in it.

At the time, I didn’t consider the impact it had on my team.

How did it feel to have the boss step in, and at the last minute?

What message did it send about them?

Though I stepped in, did my efforts actually make a difference? Or, did I simply “shake things up”?

You might guess that my team didn’t welcome the way I stepped in.

I often waited too long, came in too fast, and made too many changes.

This made some people upset, others nervous, and no one felt good about it (if they dared be honest with me.)

I thought I was helping with better planning, organizing, communication, etc. But now I wonder if that was helpful at all.

It’s really hard not to be biased as I look back. I want to think that my efforts helped. It seemed like projects got “back on track.”

But maybe it was just an example of the Hawthorne Effect – simply paying attention to people tends to improve how they work.

If so, a lighter touch might have had the same positive effect, without upsetting my team.

Maybe I could have asked the team, “Things don’t look good, where should I help?” rather than simply stepping in with my boss hat and taking over.

Maybe you could too.

“When it comes to bosses, a little goes a long way.” – Tom Y.

Have a nice weekend!


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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