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Escaping The House Elf Management Trap – Accidentally in Code:

House elfing comes from a good place, often tied to some idea of “servant leadership”. People who internalize this idea that they exist to work for their team, and the way they know how to do that is to pick up all the small annoying things, run all the meetings, plan all the team activities, pick up the boring grunt work, tidy up the bug list etc.

The outcome of this is that they are:

  • Wholly reactive ➡️ unable to focus on bigger / more impactful work.
  • Buried in small details ➡️ unable to step back and see the bigger picture.
  • Exhausted ➡️ running around all day picking up after people does that to you.
  • Overwhelmed ➡️ see also: reactive. By being buried in the details, you don’t have time to make the meaningful improvements.

Worse, these managers often start thinking it’s their job to make their team happy. Wrong! It’s your job to make your team effective. Constant picking up of small things does not make your team more effective – noticing the patterns and improving the processes, or the projects themselves does that.

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