I had served as EM for sometime. I had created the squads which delivered the required asks. As a next step, I was asked to take the role of a Project Manager. Well! the promotion had been a cheerful new for me. I looked up to it. I evaluated my journey so far. I knew the organisation and its way of working. I had gained experience as a EM. Even though I delivered engineering solutions but I handled people issues. To my conscience I was better prepared. So let’s get going :sunglasses: ! I wanted to take that role.
I was promoted to be PM for a not so agile project. It was a 20 people distributed team between a vendor and us. The vendor was building a central component with a small team of 5 people, working from U.S. On our side we had a 14+ people team which was integrating the component, with our flows. Unlike the EM role I hit the initial challenge of understanding the ask. There were so many functional flows which were in flight. The data was moving from stage A to stage B. In certain cases it moved directly to other stages like Stage C/D/E. It was a plumbing mesh. Team used to come to me with an issues in one or the other plumbing. Subordinates would often throw a functional problem in Standup updates and I used to answer :
“Post standup Lets have a discussion over it.”
I was having 4-5 post standup discussion. In most of the discussions , I would often ask to start from the beginning of the flow as I was unable to keep track of it. This would eat away my day with little time left for the things I wanted to take up.
To the organisation I was working fine with the team, but internally I was a self citric. My self conscience would question the work we had been doing but that was fine for the organisation. After a quarter I was handed over one more distributed team. It was difficult until I resolved my way of working. My anxiety would often make it difficult to sleep. On many nights I would woke up in the middle of night.
It had been a roller coster ride for me. I had several occasions of anxiety. Besides the below learnings this move pushed me to an active lifestyle. Doing yoga and aerobics daily helps to calm your mind.
Delusions of adequacy
I have been serving positions where I was in control of the things we developed. I know how our systems behaved and if not I would spend time to debug the code. As an EM role, I knew my tools very well. But in my current position I was not aware of the complete product. The product had been working since years. It had large number of plumbing connects. There wasn’t anyone in the team who could draw it completely.Everyone knew some part in detail. I was having hard time in convincing my self over this fact. This crippled me as I could not foresee problems and the possible solutions. In business meets I was asked about the issues and timelines. I was very brief in highlighting the issues as the fear of cross-question would hold me back.
I was suffering from
Delusions of adequacy. I was being a self citric. I was preparing hard for every meeting but still unable to get the complete ecosystem. The answers I gave were acceptable to the stakeholders but were full of self-doubt and nervous twitches. I was seeking help on this. Struggling hard with it, I finally surrendered to the fact that I can’t know everything. This eased my anxiety levels before every meeting.
I had elaborated how my day started with standup generated discussions. There were very rare days when I had only 1 discussion post standup. But each of these discussions were motivated by the aim to get more control. But it had the apposite affect, the more discussions I had the more I felt out of place. Moreover, each of these discussions would stop at the same note :
I will look into it and get back to you
This had a domino affect on my work. I was unable to solve the problems of my team. Moreover, I did not had time to think about the things asked by business. Finally, on my peer advice, I stopped attending daily standup :). Now, I did not look into the day-2-day problems, which my team is supposed to solve. Instead I started speaking to the senior developers for an update on various items.
When I took over the team I found the high performance individuals were struggling to perform. On the other hand, when I spoke to the previous manager these people were doing great work. He had the perspective of business clarity and I was looking for end-to-end solutions. The guys were very good inn communication , so they spoke to the required stakeholders to get the requirements. But on the other hand they were struggling with solution development and integration. I initially started pairing with these high performance guys. Often I had to
spoon-feed the complete solution. This was working for them but not for me. They would often walk to me for trivial issues. Then I read the following :
Thus, I stopped pairing. Every time they came with an issue, I asked them to get me the
next-possible-step. This had a damaging impact on their performance, but it was good for both of us. I got back time for my work items. But the transition had been a painful one, often I had the urge to fix their issues due to one of the following intellectual reasons :
- They are not very skilled
- Let me see how complex is this
- It is good to get your hands dirty
- Let me cover a few items so that we hit production in time
- or anything else !
I now understand that it is their challenge and their growth. I have a different challenge of management and my growth to leadership. The best thing that I can do for them is letting them do it and do it as expected. Be critical for their work and ask them to correct. We can recall that we only remember the teacher ( and fitness coach :satisfied:) who had been critical and strict about their work.