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When Your Manager Leaves

Personal growth

6 April, 2021

Thomas Lamirault, Engineering Manager at BlaBlaCar, speaks of his efforts to adapt to the challenging situation of being left on his own after his manager left the company.

Problem

In one of my previous jobs, my manager left the company, and an interim manager was appointed to replace them. However, the interim manager had other priorities and didn’t have time to manage me and help me out with my responsibilities. By putting some more effort to find my way around and overcoming one obstacle after another, I became more autonomous and confident about my work.
 

Actions taken

As an engineering manager, I was daily encountering challenges that I needed help with. Since I couldn’t count on my interim manager’s support in those matters, I decided to look out for support elsewhere. I reached out to an experienced manager within the company who I asked to be my mentor. That was not someone I reported to, but rather someone familiar with the domain and challenges I was facing. Their support and guidance in my daily work turned out to be most precious.
 

Furthermore, I got hold of all available resources and pored over them for hours. I was avidly reading books, articles, and blog posts but also subscribed to numerous online courses. I was using every opportunity to expand my knowledge, enrich my insights and learn about new ideas. Talking to my peers, discussing different approaches, and exchanging ideas made me even more curious and open to new things. Our frank and engaging discussions confronted me with different perspectives and made me question my own decisions and approaches. That also allowed me to detach myself from my day-to-day work and look at my personal growth from a long-term perspective.
 

Finally, I found feedback received from my reports and peers to be immensely valuable. I practiced full transparency with my reports from the very beginning and explained the situations to the greatest detail. I also relied on feedback from my peers that was critical to assess -- in the absence of a manager -- my own performance.
 

Lessons learned

  • Don't hesitate to try new things. Changed circumstances require new things. Reading and talking to peers can supply you with new ideas; it’s on you to give them a try.
  • Be transparent in order to build trust with your team. A team will know what is going on. Being transparent with them and explaining the situation will help you strengthen trust.
  • Be open-minded about the feedback you will receive. Feedback is a gift; it will help you improve and grow, even though we are not always ready to hear negative feedback.
  • Don't hesitate to ask for peer review and mentorship.

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