The Field Guide to Leading Teams

14/26Only the ones who do the work know how long it will take.

Time estimates created by management and other people removed from the frontlines are, at best, an uneducated guess. They miss the context and nuance of the actual situation on the ground. Trust your team regarding their own work.

The typical error here usually involves the word “just.” Nothing is ever “just” like “just move all those boxes over there” or “just refactor this part of the app” when you’re not the one that has to do it.

More importantly, allowing your team to set their own time estimates leads to them getting better at estimating by understanding their own working velocity and ability to tackle things.

This is a muscle you want to help them build over time, not atrophy.

Best Practices

  • Estimates created by management and others removed from the front lines are, at best, a guess. They miss the context and nuance of the actual situation. They often oversimplify things or, alternatively, over-complicate them. Trust your team.
  • Setting daily goals leads to developers getting better at estimating by understanding their own working velocity and ability to tackle things.