How to Get Your Team to Accept a Difficult Decision

Sid Gidwani

Engineering manager at Stripe



When I arrived as a new manager at a fast-growing startup there was a major part of the code that needed to be rewritten. My team wanted to start again from scratch, but as a new manager, I didn't feel at ease ceding to this request and presenting it to my executives. This is because developers tend to prefer starting from scratch, and often push in this direction, whether or not it's the best solution.

Actions taken

I decided not to start the code from scratch and decided to patiently fix the bugs instead. After approximately two months it became apparent that if we wanted to add a new feature the code had to be totally rewritten, due to technical debt. We worked hard for two months trying to fix the bugs, and at the same time gathered a lot of data, which helped us to explain why the previous code was not sufficient for our needs. I was able to present that data to the executives, who were much more willing to accept my decision to start from scratch, as it was backed by data, and well justified.

Lessons learned

I learned that when you have to take a difficult decision, as well as to convince some other people that it's the right thing to do, the best way is to:

  • Communicate with them as much as possible to make them feel that they are part of your decision
  • Gather data in order to base your argumentation on facts and not on impressions

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Sid Gidwani

Engineering manager at Stripe

CommunicationDecision MakingTechnical Expertise

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