Struggling to delegate

Jacob White

Director Web Development at Caleres, Inc.



At my current company, I used to work as a developer and had integrated some software for the company. I was then promoted to the role of manager, supervising the team of people who had to support the software. However, because it was such a custom and unique piece of software, I convinced myself that it would be easier for me to fix any issues than to explain how to fix the issues to my team.

"I convinced myself that it would be easier for me to fix any issues than to explain how to fix the issues to my team."

I had spent a long time customizing the software and had done all of the customizations myself, so I didn't want my engineers to feel bad when they weren't able to fix it due to their unfamiliarity. However, this led to me becoming very stressed, as everyone was depending on me, and there were a couple of times where bugs were left unfixed for too long.

Actions taken

It took me a long time to accept that I didn't have enough time to be a manager and a developer. While it felt like a risk to potentially let my team fail, I came to the realization that it's actually a natural part of learning and that I was ultimately not respecting my team, as I wasn't trusting their ability to learn.

Once I realized this, I decided to make a change. When an engineer came up to my desk and asked for help with the software, I had previously said "Don't worry about it, I'll do it". However, I progressively started saying "You can do it this way- ask me if you need help".

The first time I tried this process, I explained everything to them and showed them how to do it before sending them back to their desk to do it for themselves straight after. Once I had made that change with some team members, I gave team members some more in-depth training, so they could show others how to fix the software.

Lessons learned

While it was a fairly organic transition, it felt like a big emotional shift in my mind, as I was stressed to let them potentially mess up. Most of the fear was in my own head, and I think that they were relieved to be trusted and to have control of the software, as they were then able to actively engage with the product.

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Jacob White

Director Web Development at Caleres, Inc.

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