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I'm the line manager and lead developer of a small team of 4 people. I am new to the role and currently ramping up my knowledge of the domain and internal technical architecture.

I'm very laid back in my management style. As long as we're delivering new features and the code is to what I consider to be a professional standard then I just let people get on.

One team member is trying to take over management of the team. I have nothing against them personally, they're very smart, they've been very helpful to me and other colleagues and I've given then good performance reviews. However they're young, mid 20s, and seem to have a very black and white view of things and very fixed ideas of how things should be done.

I've noticed them trying to take over the management of the team. Trying to take charge of delegation, trying to run meetings and standups and just generally over stepping what I consider to be boundary of their role in order to implement a team dynamic that they feel is appropriate.

I don't want to crush anyone's sprit or good intentions however I don't want this to continue. We have bi weekly one to one meetings where I would like to make it clear this should stop.

What is the best way to approach this ?

  • "One team member is trying to take over management of the team" and in the next sentence: " I have nothing against them personally, they're very smart, they've been very helpful to me.." - Are we talking about a singular person or the whole team tries to take over control over themselves? Please clarify.. – iLuvLogix Sep 26 '19 at 9:24
  • @Joe - Also see Stallman's Better Genderless Pronouns in English. Stallman recommends calling them per (short for person). The antecedent is clear, and it does not offend the folks who can't decide if they are male or female. – user25792 Sep 27 '19 at 2:48
  • @JoeStrazzere Thanx for the info, I wasn't aware of that usage.. (not a native speaker) – iLuvLogix Sep 27 '19 at 8:11
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    @JoeStrazzere "In most human communication, understanding tends to be important." ;) ..but unfortunately still in most cases undervalued and under-practised. – iLuvLogix Sep 27 '19 at 11:38
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Trying to take charge of delegation, trying to run meetings and standups

If this is occurring it is only because there is a vacuum with regards to someone being in charge of delegation, running meetings, and running standups. If you want to lead that team, if you want to be a manager, you need to fill that vacuum. Otherwise, other people will, and very quickly you'll either no longer be a lead/manager, or worse, you'll be a lead/manager which no one listens to or respects.

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What is the best way to approach this ?

Outline and define their role so that you're both clear on the issue. Then take charge of your team and manage it, don't allow your responsibilities to be eroded in future.

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It's hard to tell if they are taking over because there is a power vacuum, because the team is functioning well, or because your employee doesn't understand that self-directed teams don't need managers climbing all over everything.

You have to answer that question. If there's an actual vacuum and you need to step in, click the "Accept" checkbox on dan.m's answer.

If the team is working well on it's own and this young employee doesn't get it, you sit them down and have this discussion --

  1. Some teams can function just fine with the manager taking a hand's off approach.
  2. This team is doing that.
  3. There is a way to become a manager.
  4. Their approach isn't that way.

Then, you ask if they want to become a manager. And I hate to say "then you move them out of your department", but that would be my advice. Not out of spite, but because they aren't going to learn to be a leader in a department which is self-directed.

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    The reason I think the power vacuum is most likely, is that if the team was running well, the other employees would intervene. For instance, if the problematic employee was trying to take over delegation, and there already was a working delegation process in place, the other employees would just ignore this new employees efforts, or more likely, tell him to stop, and shut down his efforts Very quickly the problematic employee would have figured out what needs improvement, and what doesn't. – dan.m was user2321368 Sep 26 '19 at 13:46
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    @dan.mwasuser2321368 - I'd agree with you, except that the OP used the word "trying". But hey, I told the OP to accept your answer if what you described is correct. There is always that ;) – Julie in Austin Sep 26 '19 at 16:07
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Who is supposed to be running the stand ups? Usually it's a scrum master. Do you have a designated scrum master?

Who is supposed to be delegating work? Is that not happening?

Seems to me like they are motivated and want to get stuff done. Use that to develop their leadership skills.

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    Some teams are self-running, especially teams with more senior level people. There may, legitimately, not be any one person running the show, because everyone else is more than capable of managing their own workload. – Julie in Austin Sep 27 '19 at 11:10

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