During one of my first meetings with a former manager he gave me an introduction to his working style. One of these was how he gave three types of advice:

  • A passing thought. This is not something that was thought of too deeply and just popped into my mind. I’m sharing it in case it’s helpful but it’s just as likely to be useful.
  • A suggestion but trust you. I’ve run into similar scenarios in the past and learned from those experiences. This is one of those. At the same time I trust you to make the right decision since you understand the current problem and constraints better and know the modern tools. And if it turns out that the approach doesn’t work it would act as a learning opportunity.
  • Just do it. This is an order. While I will do my best to explain my reasoning I am your manager and don’t need to justify it.

The expectation is that the first two should make up at least 90% of the advice (and ideally more) since they’re the ones that actually instill ownership and empower the individual to make decisions. It’s also a failure of a manager if you end up in a situation where you have to override your team that often. It may be an indicator that you did not provide enough context and that your team is not seeing the full picture. It may also be that the team just doesn’t have the skill or desire to operate at the level you need them to. In any case the fact that you need to resort to this last level often is a symptom of a problem that you need to root out.


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