People sometimes confuse direction with dictation, both as an IC and a manager. One technique I often use is dueling principles. They are delivered two at a time and are contradictory. I ask the individual to use practical wisdom and judgment to make the final decision using the principles as guides. Here some examples I have used recently (in no particular order):
|#||On the one hand…||On the other hand…|
|1||When possible, promote from within rather than bring in external leadership.||Don’t put people in a position if they can’t handle it.|
|2||Each person is responsible for their own work-life balance. Push back when you can’t work any more/harder.||Sometimes, we need to go above and beyond to achieve a short term goal.|
|3||Always manage expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver.||Don’t be so conservative with your estimates, that you kill the project and mislead leadership.|
|4||Be proactive. Try things. See if they work. If they don’t you learn, fix, and move forward.||Don’t make choices that lock you into a bad path in the future|
|5||Designers are responsible for the end-user experience, not PM or Eng.||We are collaborative and pragmatic. We will work with different parties to find the best solution given the constraints.|
|6||Be pragmatic. The best UX is not always the right solution.||Inspire. It’s our job to imagine a better way to do things and convince people.|
|7||Show your video in Zoom. We are all humans who crave connection.||Unless you can’t|
|#||On the one hand||On the other hand|
|1||Easter eggs and fun are awesome!||Don’t make it a circus. Stay classy San Diego.|
|2||Consistency is more important than usability||Usability is important!|
|3||Things should be as simple as possible.||But not simpler. (Don’t overcomplicate, but include enough to make it work)|
|4||Great products are customizable||But use sensible defaults|
There are many more, but I advise you to come up with your own list. Maintain a set of principles that help guide you. The point is that you can have too much or too little of anything. Balance is the key to a good life, a good product, and a good career.
If you have an interesting dueling principles, I would be eager to here it in the comments.