3 min read

👃 How to identify and address CTO smells - People Management: TMW #288 by CTO Craft

Hello again!

Last week we focused on some common mistakes engineering leaders make around Process - today we'll start paying attention to those relating to communication and people management. On with the show!

If you're in London there's still time to grab your free ticket for tonight's Bytes London event in Holborn - if you're an interim or consulting CTO or are interested in taking that route, you'll want to be there:

Bytes London: Plotting The Interim CTO Path, Thu 8 Sep 2022 at 18:00 in Holborn, London

Until next time!

Andy @ CTO Craft

How to identify and address CTO smells: People Management

Not every leader starts out as a great leader, and if your ascent was more accident rather than design in the beginning then it’s possible to take bad behaviours with you or pick up new ones without the right guidance and development. With this is mind, we’ve identified seven common mistakes leaders make when it comes to managing downwards and why these need to be tackled promptly to ensure a thriving team:

1. Not setting expectations — People aren’t mind readers and although you may expect most to be team players, it’s hard for juniors to work together when they don’t know what is expected of them both in terms of individual and shared performance.

Solution:increased engagement

2. Not creating structure — Although autonomy is often a good thing, it works best when permitted within a framework. Even the most brilliant developers and engineers require direction. Without which, un-monitored tangents happen.


3. Failing to recognise needs — People are just that: people. They’re not work horses and there will be times when their work or commitment to the job is below par. Often, there are good reasons behind this, but more often, there are incorrect assumptions by managers that a drop in performance is down to laziness or disinterest. Reductionist attitudes can lead to missing warning flags and not realising when your team member might need additional support.


4. Becoming too attached — When you’re (fully or partly) responsible for scaling a company and building a team, it’s easy to cross the line from ‘boss’ to ‘friend’ when you’re working closely and riding the highs and lows of startup life together. Workplace relationships are important and feelings and emotions will factor in, but this can become a problem when it affects a manager’s ability to interact with a person without bias: whether it’s undue consideration for promotion, or becoming blind to faults and are unable to constructively criticise or even fire someone if/when the situation requires it. Attachment can also create tensions within a team where other junior employees observe such favouritism.


5. Unable to delegate — Delegation can be difficult in a number of circumstances: a) When you’ve been entirely responsible for a product since its inception, b) when you’re pushed for time and need help completing certain things but it’s the exact time you don’t have time to ask for it, or c) possess the (mistaken) belief that no-one will be able to do something as well as you can. Delegation however, is important for building your team’s confidence, developing their skills and improving efficiency.


6. Micromanaging — Supervision of your team is obviously a good thing, but it can tip over into too much; drip-feeding information to maintain constant contact, asking for feedback at every incremental stage or telling someone how to do their job a certain way. Micromanaging sometimes comes from a good place — a manager who wants to help or improve efficiency — but mostly, it has the complete opposite effect: eroding trust, confidence and morale, stifling creativity and preventing discovery of new ways to problem-solve.

Solution: master the art ofdelegation

7. Not giving feedback — Most people care about what others think of them and your subordinates are no exception. If people don’t receive adequate feedback on their performance, they don’t know what they’re doing right and what, if anything, is going wrong. It can lead to second-guessing and as humans are programmed to catastrophise, doing so can detrimentally affect people’s self-esteem and create the belief that they’re failing.


That’s it!

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Have an amazing week!