It was my first week in the new job as a dev team leader. The bug report looked awful, 5 blockers and 3 of them belonged to my team. Ben the consultant swaggered into the room. Even though I knew he was stressed, he still projected an invincible air of confidence. With the door shut, the meeting started….
Ben launched into an attack about the quality of my team’s software and demanded to know how long it would take my team to fix the 3 blocker bugs that we had. Suddenly it didn’t quite feel as much fun as I’d thought it would be on this side of the door. I’d always imagined I could do a better job at making decisions but now I felt out of my depth and I longed for my own desk and a computer that would simply throw a null pointer exception rather than shouting at me.
So back to the question “Could we deliver?” Everyone in the room turned to face me. With eyes down I mumbled that I wasn’t sure.
So what should I have said..
Here are three top tips for you to use:
- Breath, look directly at the person asking the question and speak slowly and calmly.
- If you’re pretty sure then you should go “all in” and say “Yes, we’ll have the three bugs closed off by 5pm tonight.” You’re never going to get everything right. You’ll get more done by moving forward with a fixed goal, it’s better to ask for forgiveness later. Generally so much will happen in the mean time that there’s always a good reason if it doesn’t end up working out.
- If you really don’t have a clue then at least be specific and direct about your next step. “I need to double check with John, I’ll get back to you at 1pm with a concrete timeline”