Rebel Founder: The Hidden Art of Backfilling

Phil Alves
Phil Alves
· 2 min read
Rebel Founder: The Hidden Art of Backfilling

Hey Rebel Founders,

The Rebel Founder newsletter is back with its second issue! In this post, I'll share my insights on delegating and backfilling. 

Another day, a friend asked how I scaled DevSquad from 5 to 100 people. At the time, I couldn't think of any smart answer. I just mumbled something and told him it was hard... haha.

The question remained in the back of my mind, and an insight came to me while I was walking my dog.

Scaling an organization is all about learning to delegate and, most importantly, to backfill.

After you figure out how to delegate and get out of the way, you have to learn a new skill: how to backfill just enough and in the right places.

Here’s the secret: As a leader, your job isn’t to micromanage things your team already knows how to do, but you should absolutely help fill in the gaps where they lack experience or knowledge.

In the early stages of DevSquad, I made the mistake of not backfilling enough. There is no such thing as "delegate and forget", nor should you expect your team to be well-versed in everything. 

Rather than blaming your team, ask yourself, am I backfilling enough?

Rather than being frustrated when your team falls short on something, you should support them behind the scenes.

The key word here is behind the scenes. You want the team or person you are supporting to take all the credit. For example, I've helped our product managers with product strategy countless times at DevSquad, but I always try to stay invisible. It gives the Product Manager ownership and helps them gain the trust of their team and clients. It even makes them more confident in their own abilities to solve similar problems in the future.

Backfilling for others is only the first step.

The next step is to realize when you need it. When I am stuck on something, I often raise my hand and ask my team to save my ass to assist me. To succeed as a leader, you must learn to ask for help and show your team that backfilling can occur in any direction.

Backfilling isn't just about filling gaps; it's about empowering your team to reach new heights. It's the strategy that helps Rebel Founders scale.

To Your Rebel Journey,

Phil Alves

PS: I would appreciate it if you could reply to this email and let me know your thoughts on this issue of The Rebel Founder Newsletter. I'm sorry you couldn't reply to last week's email. There was something wrong with my email service provider settings; it should be fixed now.  

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