Delegation 101

When I was first put in charge of a small engineering team, I loved being the problem solver.

My team would come to me with all the hairy issues and ask my opinion, and I would gladly offer my sage wisdom as an experienced engineer and leader.

This worked fine for a while, but after a few months of having my team to come to me with every difficult decision, I realized that I had created a monster.

Nobody wanted to make tough calls. I had trained 5 intelligent, capable, independent engineers to bring every big decision to me before moving forward. Our velocity slowed to a crawl as I realized that I had made a huge mistake for the long-term health of my team.

I was struggling to keep up with all the questions and I felt like I couldn’t take a day off or the team would be completely immobilized. So, I worked longer, harder, and wrote more than I ever had before to make sure my team was constantly unblocked.

I can’t remember who finally told me this, but one of my mentors at the time was very straight with me:

“Why are you coming up with all the solutions? They’re smart, why don’t you make them bring you the answers?”

This was the beginning of my journey to true delegation. Read the whole journey here on my blog.

Karl Hughes