Daily Archives: August 2, 2011

Take responsibility for failure

I have always believed there is a “golden rule” when it comes to managing an IT organization.

Give credit to your team for successes and take the responsibility for failures

Let’s say you have a support programmer who puts some new code into production without testing it completely and without communicating it to the users affected.

In most situations your change management process will prevent this but in a small company it might happen so let’s use it to explain my point.

He installs the code and something breaks, , , big surprise – right?

You get a call from a manager, , , one of your largest clients, , , and she is irate to put it mildly. Not only did it break but several screens have changed and many on her staff are confused and have called her or gone to see her.

All of this is impeding her organization’s productivity and she doesn’t like it. Who does she share her frustration with?

You bet, it will be you, , , but that’s not all. She may share it with her boss, the CFO or other senior managers. Unhappy people tend to share their displeasure with others, you know.

Even though this has happened before and you have told the programmer to never do it again, it still happened.

When the client shares her frustration, the last thing you want to do is to pass the blame onto the programmer.

Yes, he caused the problem and you have discussed the issue with him before, but you still have to take responsibility. You are the manager.

Accept responsibility and tell your client you will take care of the issue, , , never bring the programmer up. The client may even know who actually caused the problem, but that’s ok. Don’t mention the programmer, , , just take your medicine and move on.

After the client meeting, , , now is the time to have a one-on-one meeting with the programmer. Behind closed doors you can make absolutely clear this is not to happen again and you spell out the consequences if it does.

Taking the “hit” for failures yourself and giving your team the credit for successes builds loyalty among your team. Your employees will walk through fire for a manager they know supports them to the fullest.

Believe it or not, , , word gets around about the problem that occurred and how you handled the issue. You gain respect from your IT employees and clients as well.

And, , , the programmer won’t do this again if there are real consequences for failing to follow your direction.