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I struggled with delegating

John Cline

Senior Engineering Manager at Blue Apron

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Problem

"When I first started as a manager, I felt a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I was one of the biggest individual contributors to the code we were working on and didn't want to disappoint on this aspect. However, the previous manager of my team had quit, and some other people had resigned after that, so the team had reduced from 7 to 4 people. I had to balance my individual contributions with taking responsibility for the team. Because I was under pressure and I had built up so much of the product, I struggled to delegate. I knew I was faster than the rest of the team, and I thought I was just making things more efficient by doing things myself. However, the rest of the team was doing less interesting and challenging work, and I progressively noticed that their faith in me getting things done was deteriorating. Eventually, my manager told me that I shouldn't be coding anymore."

Actions taken

"Progressively, I decided to delegate better. First, I decided to reduce the pressure on myself by backfilling the positions of the engineers that had left and by talking with our product manager to explain that I had a reduced team, so would be delivering less. Then, I progressively assigned my engineers new tasks that I would've previously done myself, and they really appreciated it. It helped them become better engineers and they were able to work on more interesting problems."

Lessons learned

"Nowadays, when I decide to do actual coding, I make sure that me doing it really makes sense. When I work on something, I'm potentially depriving someone on my team from learning and developing. This situation made me realize that everyone has to feel part of the broader vision and that one person cannot take care of everything."


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John Cline

Senior Engineering Manager at Blue Apron


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill Development

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