Push & Pull Support

Posted on May 24, 2021

I have recently moved into a Tech Lead role at work and subsequently I have been thinking about the different sorts of support I have been lucky enough to receive. I think it can broadly be split into two categories: push support and pull support.

Pull support is someone saying “Let me know if you need a hand!”. You pull in the support when you need it. There is value in this type of support, but often in requires you to know what you need support with. It has to be a known known or a known unknown1.

This is contrasted with push support. This could be someone saying “I have noticed that you haven’t been doing X and I think you should.” This typically comes from someone with experience in the position you are operating in and it can help you target unknown unknowns - things that you might not even realise you should be doing or thinking about.

I like to think that getting used to a new role is like rolling a big boulder2. When you start it takes a lot of support from a lot of people, but once you get it rolling you can generally keep it going by yourself and you might need more support if you need to change direction. As you can imagine, having people both pulling and pushing when trying to get that boulder moving will make you move quicker than just one or the other.

If you look around at your support network at work, do you have the right balance of push and pull support?

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns ↩︎

  2. Does this make career progression somewhat of a Sisyphean task? ↩︎