I didnt want to pay hell, so I tracked down my best developer and said, Guess what? I have a great challenge for you!
No kidding. I sounded just like my former manager. Kind of like when you have kids and say, Dont sit so close to the TV or youll ruin your eyesight as soon as the words leave your mouth, you realize you sound just like your parents.
Well, Ive learned its the same for managers and their team members. In looking back, I realized the different pressures previous managers were under and how they were only trying to help me.
Of course I stayed late with my developer to solve this customers problem. And guess what? Yep, I hadnt coded in years and never in the language he had to work with. So I could offer very little in the way of technical guidance.
But if I went home and left him there to work late, would that even be fair? If I had to ask a team member to sacrifice, then I had to sacrifice as well.
I stayed to make sure they had all the resources required to solve the problem. And yes, I made sure they were fed.
Those were the unselfish reasons to stay. The selfish reasons were that it was ultimately my responsibility for this customers satisfaction. If we failed to fix their system, then it would be me explaining to my boss why we failed. So I needed to be there to make sure I did everything possible to ensure a positive outcome.
As a parent, you can also learn from your own parents mistakes. You learn they arent perfect. Same thing goes for being a manager. I didnt bug my developer every hour. (Maybe every other hour.) And I didnt just sit there staring over his shoulder with nothing useful to say.
Eventually, the problem was solved because my developer was smart and had all the tools and resources necessary to resolve the issue. If this time around I was just there for moral support, then so be it.
The next time, the story may be different and Ill be right there, late in to the night to make sure all ends well. Just like a good, responsible parent would do for their children.
Eric Spiegel is CEO and co-founder of XTS, which provides software for planning, managing and auditing Citrix and other virtualization platforms.