When NOT to delegate

Chuck Sweet

Engineering manager at DocuSign



"When I started as a manager, I struggled a lot with delegating. I would always find it easier and faster to do things myself. I also questioned what I should and shouldn't delegate. When I started at my first company as a manager, I inherited a huge bug backlog that had not been dealt with for a year or so."

Actions taken

"With a team of mostly senior engineers, I decided to delegate bug management to them, expecting them to prioritize bugs over features when necessary. However this didn't work, and the bug backlog grew instead of shrinking. So instead, I started assigning bugs to specific people to get them fixed. Simple as that."

Lessons learned

"There are things you should delegate and there are things you should not. By delegating bug management, I had delegated the prioritization of bugs vs features to my engineers and this was not their job. Ensuring that your team is following organizational priorities is something you should do yourself. A manager's role is to make sure your team is aligned with the organization's priorities, in order for it to keep doing its job and in order for it to deliver value."

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Chuck Sweet

Engineering manager at DocuSign

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor Roles

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