When people, both friends and colleagues included, found out about my leave plans, they immediately enquired how I was going to manage the work topic. I lead a technology team responsible for an online video platform for DStv (providing live/linear streaming channels as well as video-on-demand Catch Up services, we also support a major part of the business with a full digital/web platform infrastructure). Around that time, my teams were working flat out to stabilise the platform, in preparation for the FIFA world cup. We will only be ready to "freeze" a week before world cup - how could I possibly leave the team at such a critical period?? On top of that, my division was part of an ongoing group-wide organisational restructure, in those two weeks, there was much HR work to do, including rationalising job roles across various technology divisions, job grading, role & people profiling, as well as one-on-one consultations. How could I leave the team leaderless through this period?? And to add a cherry on the top, whilst I would be on leave, the group's yearly Ops Review would've taken place, I would need to input into this stream as well. As if this wasn't enough, there were concerns that my leadership team was fairly new, people had some doubts...
I wasn't really concerned by these, instead I saw it as the perfect opportunity to test my leadership team. Whilst a fairly new team that's been only recently formally announced, they are still in between the storming/norming phase (even though it's been over a year since they're under my leadership transformation). I wanted to test out a few things:
- I'm not seen as a bottleneck, if there's a crisis my leadership team can manage well without me
- My leadership team can get along and do what's best for the customer/business
- The leadership team and rest of the foot soldiers can continue with the template set out for them
- My boss and fellow exec members get to know & learn about my senior managers
- My team's overall readiness level to tackle execs (a world they're usually buffered from)
How did I go about Pairing Managers?
Simple Rules for Paired Management
- Always be respectful to each other
- Do not openly contradict or challenge another's view in a public forum outside of technology
- Handle your differences internally but appear united when representing me at my exec meetings
- If you're unable to sort your differences, seek the arbitrator assigned for counsel (the female manager)
- Note that the pair are my substitutes (you're representing me). If one speaks or is asked to respond to something in a wider forum, the other should follow and resist the urge to disagree
- Leave your egos outside - when dealing with a conflicting view or decisions - always fall back to what is best for the customer.
- Two brains are better than one
- You're not alone - lean on each other for support