Put Your Reputation on the Deadline
So you say, “I’m gonna need programming.”
…and you call Brian at VJ Labs in Maryland and say, “Brian, on December 15, I’m gonna need software that matches this approximate spec. For you to make that date – for you to bet your reputation on that date – on what date do you need to get from me every screenshot, every layout, every requirement?”
And he says back to you, “September 1.”
So suddenly, the only deadline that matters if you really want to ship on December 15 is September 1.
– The ShipIt Journal from Seth Godin
Bad managers fantasize about curling glory. They gracefully slide their stone across the ice while subordinates sweep furiously to make it hit the mark.
But the stone misses. It strays because each underling has personal goals.
Some teammates want to conserve energy. Others want to climb up the ladder. Some just want to feel like part of a team. When you ignore people’s personal goals, they will lie to you to conserve your hope. With a discordant team, each deadline is a coinflip.
Expect delays when you encourage subordinates to deceive you. Managers incentivize subordinates to produce optimistic yet incorrect estimates. This is how optimistic deceipt spirals out of control:
- openly sharing project concerns can hurt team morale or put your job at risk
- conservative estimates make individuals look lazy/incompetent
- diffuse responsibility enables all teammates to shirk personal consequences
- optimism bias encourages wishful thinking
- non-critical deadlines harm credibility
Good managers are kindergarten teachers. They provide directions, tools, and support. They guard underlings from distraction, danger, and depression. They coax and encourage and create safe environments.
Kindergarteners require guidance. Good managers don’t let subordinates run free for weeks and act surprised to find everybody playing. Create structured work environments with creative freedom and clear objectives.
Good managers align businesses with employees. They get what they want by giving people what they need.
Listen with your heart. Draw out potential. Keep promises. Deliver quality.