Hello everyone,

I'm a member of a software development team (~20 people). My team lead is moving temporarily to different position within the company (and also moving geographically) for a four month period. He's asked and I've agreed to take over for the duration.

I've been in my current individual contributor role (with some nontrivial amount of technical leadership responsibilities) for about two years; prior to that I had some amount of experience in the management function (being entrepreneur in a two-person company - we did roll out Trinity to some extent).

Four months is a short period of time, and I'm expecting I'll be stepping back into my current IC role when my team lead returns. There's a bunch of great advice on the casts and forums, and I'll be going through it like there's no tomorrow, but I'm not sure what to make of the four-month timeframe.

What's the best approach here? My gut tells me to not make many (any?) changes, and when changes must happen involve my absentee team lead in the change process (he's not flying to Mars, communication will be possible).

How should I approach delegation? I'm fairly sure I'll have to (and want to) delegate things to my directs/colleagues. My gut would go for emphasizing that delegation will be temporary at first, to see how it would work. We try to be an agile house so it should fit right in.

But starting full Trinity roll-out? Not a good idea in my opinion.

Any thoughts?

Kevin1's picture

I think you are on the right track E75.   

If you make changes that 'show up' your boss, then you are heading into trepid waters when he returns.  If changes are urgently needed, then involving him in the change is definitely a good idea.  

Regarding Trinity.

Perhaps think about having Project Manager style 1 on 1s and maybe call them and treat them more as work updates and information sharing with a small amount of time for bonding at the start and finish.  Definitely no discussion of their development.

Feedback - stick to peer style feedback as you'll not be their boss in 4 months time, and keep it positive unless there is an obvious miss on a work schedule or quality.

There shouldn't be any need for coaching over that timeframe.  At most remind people that they probably have personal development goals that they should be allocating some time to.

I wouldn't think that you should be delegating in that timeframe either.  But don't confuse delegation with assignment. Jobs and tasks will need to be assigned, and that is exactly what you are being asked to do.  Delegating the TL responsibilities out when they have just been given to you would not be wise.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards


E75's picture

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for the comment; we are aligned, I can see. Regarding delegation, I was mostly thinking about (without saying out loud, apologies) delegating some of my current responsibilities in IC role to someone else for the duration to make room for new responsibilities. I see it as a growth opportunity for some of my junior colleagues.

PM/Peer feedback is a good match, I feel. I'll be revisiting them.

How about building relationships with key figures in other parts of the organization, "up" and horizontally? This is the perfect excuse to reach out, I think. We are a furiously growing company (though our team not as much) but there's still a lot of small company informal feel.

Thank you again!

Kevin1's picture

Hi E75,

It is hard to know how much time you have to allocate to TL responsibilities.  With your IC work, as much as possible, I would recommended keeping all your current IC work, but assigning yourself less of the new work in the next 4 months.  Yes it is tough at first and you'll have to work that bit harder, but you avoid looking like you couldn't wait to pass out your existing work to others.  Of couse, if the TL takes up a lot of time, then choose the simplest and lowest importance work to 'assign' (if you can) rather than delegate.  

Regarding relationships - absolutely.  Take every opportunity you can to meet new people and speak to people you don't normally speak to as part of filling in.  Just don't commit to anything your boss might not want to take on.

Kind regards