Chapter 13. Dealing with Uncertainty

Mathias Meyer

As a manager, you make decisions—lots of them. Many of them are small, usually quick and easy to make. There might be frameworks in place at your company that help you. For instance, when someone comes and asks you for a raise, a career and salary framework guides you through the process. Finding a yes or no answer and a good explanation is simple enough in those cases.

However, there are many decisions for which you’ll be faced with imperfect information. Your view as an engineering manager is limited. Given the many parties that you interact with every day, you have many perspectives to take into account. Some of these will be conflicting, even opposing. Others will contain only a shred of the real picture.

You can delegate decision making to your team as much as possible. But you won’t prevent the most uncomfortable decisions from landing on your (virtual) desk at some point.

It’s easy to become stuck in these situations because you don’t know how to balance the different perspective. You want to be sure that you’ve considered all perspectives. You want the solution to address all concerns equally. You want to talk to one more person.

Every manager (including me!) has been in this position at some point, and they can very much relate to how you feel. Making decisions in the face of an increasing amount of uncertainty can be ...

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