June Meeting Recap

Our discussion revolved around “How to manage technical people when you are less technical or no longer as technically involved” as well as how to get less technically involved to do more mangement. It was an intimate discussion, but here are some sailient points:

  • Struggles included:
    • Learning when to keep your hands in and when to step out and trust your staff
    • Keeping the trust your technical folks have in your decisions and knowing which horse to back
    • Showing that your work is also valuable when you aren’t able to connect over the technical work
    • Working with devs who get sidetracked on projects
  • Share what you do with your team (share status reports). This way your direct reports understand the value (and amount) of work you do. Show how the work you do (administrative and management work) allows them to do what they do best (technical work).
  • Trust your technical leads to make the right choices.
  • Consider workflow management like kanban for tracking ‘technical debt’ or ‘ideals’ — this allows the team to manage their own vision of the product’s direction. The actual work to be done should managed through a separate set of stories in scrum/lean or whatever you use across the company or group.
  • Set stricter tasks for reports who are off-target; suggest “when you’ve completed this goal [that’s needed immediately], then other work can be done.”
  • Look at alignment — are your reports doing other work because that’s what they really want to do? Consider new job responsibilities/position.
  • Ask reports, “What decisions have you made? What are the consequences of those?” Discuss their personal motivations.
  • A key trait is the ability to influence others and to build consensus. One-on-one coffee conversations can be great for this.
June Meeting Recap