Relative Sanity

a journal

Defined Contribution

One of the hardest things about moving to management was the shift in how I had to measure my contribution to the team. When coding, it's dead easy. I built the product or the feature. I shipped it. I contributed. Done

Management is not so simple. I didn't really build anything. Maybe I "built" the team, but even then, what did I actually do? My whole management philosophy is to get out the damn way.

Maybe I grew the team by identifying what they needed and giving it to them? But that's not right either: all I did was ask the team, then ask someone else to get it for them.

(Spoiler alert, it's almost always "more team" they ask for)

So maybe my contribution is interviewing? But even then, it's not like I go out and find the candidates.

So perhaps it's that I set up great team structures and processes? Wrong again – I get them to do that. We have a conversation and they come up with ideas. And then they do them, figure out what works, what doesn't, and they build their ideas around that.

Maybe it's that I advocate for them to the business? Well yeah, sure. Maybe it's that I make sure there's always interesting work coming in? Well, yeah, sure.

But in both of those cases I feel like I discover and react, rather than invent and strategise.

Maybe that's just it, though – when you move away from individual contribution, it gets harder to measure.

But perhaps it's still as simple as it ever was. Is the team shipping? Well then, that's on the team.

And go me for not screwing it up.