Stick to Your Guns

Our customer’s test organization found a bug in our software. This happened during a week where the edict was to fix bugs ASAP. So a new guy shipped out a fix to the bug. Turns out the fix did not work. That usually makes us look bad. From the outside, suspicious customers think we are just trying to make it look like we are fixing stuff when we are not.

My manager asked me to step in and find out how long it would take me to recover from this situation. I gave him a date. This is where the madness began. My team lead had a lot of questions about the date. I told him it was simple. I would guarantee the fix could be in by the date I gave. My team lead kept asking questions about how I arrived at that date.

Later I was given the task to take over the work for this problem. However this was not the end of the story. My team lead had a lot of questions about the problem. It took a long time for him to understand the complexities of the problem and related problems caused by the bug. He still was trying to bring in the delivery date. He told me he was getting pressured by a VIP in our company.

In the end I got fed up. I told my team lead that he might have some insight into the problem, but getting him up to speed was slowing down the resolution. I told him to tell the VIP to trust me as I have a track record of delivering when I say I am going to. My team lead had to man up. He told the VIP that there was no way to make the delivery any earlier.

All my team lead had to do in the end was write a memo with the exact plan I had to fix the bug and make sure nothing else got broke in the process. I know it is hard to be a team leader or a middle manager. But if you have the job you need to actually lead. Don’t cave in every time somebody important tries to get you to commit to shorted delivery time frames. Fight that fight. Your whole team will benefit.

I think my goal for this year is to hold my team lead responsible for representing my interests in dealing with management from our company. Otherwise I will be working late every night, working through the weekends, and be perpetually late on my projects.