February 13, 2020 // By Jeff Nordquist
You’re in a meeting, discussing a new feature for an app. Your boss thinks it can be done in a week, but as a developer you know it’ll take more like 2 months. This should be easy - just explain the facts, and everyone will understand. Right? Right?
THE RIGHT APPROACH
Your boss, a kind and respectful human being, says he thinks it should take a week. You counter, saying the code is kind of a mess and 2 months would be a better estimate. He asks a couple of questions and suggests something that you hadn’t considered. In the end, you all agree it should take about a month. You move on to the next thing.
A month later, the feature is complete. The boss takes you all out for lunch. At review time, the company dumps enormous sacks of cash on your desk. You retire to the Bahamas.
THE WRONG APPROACH
Your boss, who is burned out on this project and didn’t get much sleep last night, says there is no reason it should take more than a week. He’s tired of all the delays, and if you can’t get it done in a week he may need to look for someone who can.
You and everyone else in the room are shellshocked. You do not offer your opinion. You move on to the next item - but the room is quiet, because no one wants to deal with your boss’s mood.
A week goes by. The feature is not done - but nothing else got done either. Your co-worker accepted an offer for a new job over her lunch break. The project takes so long that the company goes bankrupt. No one can afford a trip to the Bahamas.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY
In both cases, your boss made an incorrect assumption. And in both cases, he was probably stressed out and sleep-deprived. The thing that affected your travel plans was how he approached it.
The cranky boss made people uncomfortable, and created a toxic environment where no one spoke up and mistakes festered. And then everybody was cranky, setting off a vicious cranky/toxic/festering cycle that nobody enjoys.
Remember, EVERYONE is wrong sometimes. But in most cases, what you say is less important than how you say it. If you’re going to be wrong, for Pete’s sake, at least be nice. If you’re approachable, humble, and professional, mistakes get caught and cleared up right away. Creativity flourishes, projects get completed, and everyone gets to spend more time at the beach.
Jeff Nordquist is a software developer, leader, coach, and entrepreneur. He loves learning and writing about this stuff! You can reach him on Twitter @jeffnordquist. If you want to see what positions Magenic has open, check out our Careers page!