I joined the team 2 months ago as a manager and I have a few teams in my organization. I noticed that each team relies heavily on 1 to 2 people.

Every decision goes to a few people. Production incidents always go to the same group of people. Even some basic questions have to go to these same group of people.

For a historic reason, they have been with the team from the start and they know a lot. However, I see it as a risk to rely on such a few people.

How can I change these teams to be A-teams instead of relying on a few people?

  • 1
    Have you considered that the other team members aren't interested in dealing with those issues and so they let the "key" members handle it? I have experienced this everywhere I have worked.
    – sf02
    Apr 6, 2022 at 17:47
  • @sf02 I am not sure if other people want to learn. I just hope there might be some out of 50+ that wanted to step up. Currently, they just keep waiting for these few guys to handle or tell them what to do Apr 7, 2022 at 2:46
  • @JoeStrazzere I have talked to them once and they seem to be OK when we talked. However, they still handle most of the work themselves. That's why I wanted to have concrete plans before talking to them next time Apr 7, 2022 at 2:49

2 Answers 2


All groups of people form silos.

It's human nature to spend more time working on things you like. As a result people will ask for advice and answers from experts.

Your job as a manager is to promote an unnatural sharing of work.

There are a few things you can try:

  1. Rotation of responsibilities. Assign each team member an area of work for a limited time. Rotate through all areas of work often.

  2. Amateurs answer, experts verify. Assign an amateur in an area of work to be the point of contact for answers. Assign the expert to back them up. Repeat until the expert is no longer needed.

  3. Ask the experts to write down answers in a shared knowledge base. Shared written knowledge spreads faster than solo conversations. Over time your team should develop playbooks. New hires enjoy already answered questions.

  • I absolutely wish the company I am working at now did something like this. There is so much information I don't know that could make my tasks way easier, but the only way to find out what information even exists is to happen to speak to the right person. So many things would be so much easier if there was some central knowledge base instead of each developer eventually learning the information on their own.
    – Esther
    Apr 7, 2022 at 14:55
  • You can always try starting one for the company. Pick a dead simple tool, hopefully one they already use (Google docs, o365, confluence). Every time you gain some information about a process, write it down and share it. Good culture spreads and written culture is good culture! If someone starts to explain something to you, ask if you can write it down. Apr 8, 2022 at 14:55

Sit down with those key people in your one to one sessions and explain to them that:

  1. learning to delegate is part of their professional development,
  2. their job is not at risk if they bring other people up, and
  3. you are prepared for the team to take a short term hit to its productivity in order to improve the long term productivity

Quite how they delegate depends a lot on exactly what the tasks are: maybe they can get someone else to do a first pass of design for a new feature and then review it with them. Maybe they can pair the next time there is a production incident. Maybe something else is appropriate - but they need to be involving other people in these things.

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