3 simple management tricks I learned as a Tech Lead
April 08, 2021
Developers often blame “bad management” when something goes wrong. I’ve been there too, I remember the pain.
For me, it was useful to sit on both chairs for a while acting as a Tech Lead. In this article, I share three dead simple tricks everyone can start using now to become better managers for themselves. No MBA required 🤓
1. Repeat (say it again)
Yes, the tricks will be very simple, even stupid, but they work! One of my favourites is repeating. It’s a very powerful yet underestimated technique.
Finding the courage to say something once is hard, especially when the topic is important to you. But don’t stop there! People forget, deprioritise and misunderstand all the time.
Internet is full of advice on how to say No, which implies that everything has to be said at least twice. Camille Fournier actually suggests you need to say it three times:
Finally, never underestimate how many times and how many ways something needs to be said before it sinks in. Communication in a large organization is hard. In my experience, most people need to hear something at least three times before it really sinks in. The Manager’s Path, Camille Fournier
Some examples where repeating is useful:
- Remind about an ongoing problem if it was deprioritised.
- Talk to someone else if the first contacted person wasn’t helpful.
- Insist on prioritising some refactoring or housekeeping work.
- Rephrase technical concept in plain English.
- Keep pointing out the agreed coding practices until they are being followed.
- Thank teammates for their help, again and again, in different ways.
Some channels may overuse repetition (e.g. TV series or popular non-fiction). It annoys us and we may think that saying the same thing multiple times is rude or dull. From my experience, if you are respectful and creative, everyone will appreciate your persistence.
2. Write full sentences (overcommunicate)
Remote work involves a lot of written communication via email and chat apps. Make your written communication explicit and straight to the point so that people don’t have to read 50 chat messages and two different Jira tickets to understand your last “@channel” message in Slack.
Two ways of saying “No update yet” about the hosting incident:
✅ No update yet. I’m checking with Mike from DevOps team about the issue with www.example.com deployment. I will come back to you in 15 min.
❌ No update yet. I’ll check with Mike about that issue.
(Who is Mike? Which issue? When will you check? When will my site go up!?)
Again, over-communication isn’t rude, it’s really the opposite. If something is obvious to you (e.g. there is an ongoing issue with www.example.com ), it doesn’t mean it’s obvious to everyone else. Give them the necessary context as part of your text message, and you’ll get meaningful responses faster.
3. Take care of yourself
If I would need to limit this article to only one piece of advice, I would keep this one.
You know better than anyone else when you are stuck or bored or confused. It’s very normal and it happens to all of us from time to time. Take action to get yourself out of it. If we all as individuals will take care of ourselves, many problems will be resolved much quicker and easier. Uncommunicated problems create more problems.
Your manager may catch some signals of your burnout when it’s too late. Help them and ask for a break sooner.
Your boss may have no idea that you want to leave the company because you hate DevOps work. Help them and ask for more frontend work in the upcoming project.
Your client has no idea that you are a morning person. Help them and ask to move late meetings earlier in the day. Repeat if it didn’t work from the first time 😃
There is no point in struggling at work. Happy people deliver better results, but what is more important, they make other people happier.
Hopefully, these simple tricks will make you a bit happier at work too!