Special People Require Special Management

It has been known since forever that developers are a weird bunch. If it so happened, that you don’t, you must have never seen the old Bill Gates photos. For your convenience, here is a sample. Sexy_gates

Working with IT geeks can be challenging. It is not as hard to me, as I am one of them. But there seems to be some general agreement in this respect. What even I am concerned about, is our relationship to managers. Have you ever tried to ask a developer what qualities should his ideal manager have? There will be, without exception, one dominant aspect – “he/she must have software development skills!”. Should your specimen not answer with any derivation of the above, don’t worry, he has been well trained in the human way.

A friend of mine, who happens to be a recruiter at DELL, pointed this deviation for the standard to me. He said “Define your ideal boss” and without hesitation I went “a software developer of some kind”. This changes based on the seniority of the developer asked, but should age be a part of the equation, being a developer will be a constant.

I must admit that I don’t think, that a manager needs to be a developer at the same time. We seem to be satisfied with her being a developer somewhere in the past. We have to feel the right way. For example: should knowledge had been common sense 10 years ago, our managers should know it. As for my guy, he  is awesome. He knows everything a developer should know, before he became management. He might not be able to help me with everything I need in the 21th century, but he has been marked.

It is some kind of a Rite of Passage. If one wishes to be in IT management, one has to be IT monkey first. There are no exceptions. We just don’t listen to people who have not been marked by the Rite. As long… as we have a way to question their knowledge. I personally am willing to accept any person until proven IT incapable. After that, it’s over. Could it be, that it is all about growing a pair of balls? As the proverbial saying by Betty White goes:

“Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding”


Anyways. Balls. People are capable/accepted/trusted as long as not proven wrong. It might therefore be enough, to just not show your incapability. To grow some balls and prove to a developer that something will take 160 hours to code. But beware… We can smell wannabes! What I do not understand is, why? I mean, developers are resources after all. Why can’t they be managed as resources. I’ve put some keywords into Google, in order to find an explanation, and nothing popped out. I guess that searching for respected+management will find every Scientology web that is out there inclusive blogs, seminars and management couches. Still no answer! John Sonmez posted a theory about Software Developer Herds:

The developers at the front of the herd make more money and have nicer offices, and the ones at the back make less and live in tiny cubicles, but they are all part of the herd.  So, even though there is a difference in pay from the junior developer to the senior one, there isn’t much of a difference in pay from one senior developer to another one, even if one of the senior developers is more valuable and has more advanced skills.

I am not talking about future careers. I am talking about the lack of observed difference between senior people. What seems to be the fact is, that other people do not see potential in developers. Could it be that for a non-marked manager, all developers are the same? Could it be, that one can only acquire respect from fellow developers? We are sitting in front of your computers all day long and the only achievable measurement of success is a low WTF/min measure during a code review. For all non technical folk: Most of the achievements the developers earn throughout their days will not be seen outside of the team. Every pesky bug they kill. Every well designed object they design . Every smart routine they implement. Writing solid code is hard. It takes years of training, hours of studying after the work is over and a never-ending supply of concentration. What you get at the end is Good Code. It is not code, that can react to any user request, nor more code per day. Should you, non-marked manager learn to value Good Code, we shall respect you.

#include common_sense.h

print 'Not all beauty can be seen from the outside'

assert 'Sometimes respect requires knowledge'


So, why am I writing about this in the first place? Because… people seem not to get it. Ask your local IT sourcer (the gateway to any new IT job), how the future manager of her IT candidates should look like. Should you be a manager struggling with IT personnel that got a link to this article. Please realize, that:


If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to my Newsletter and/or Feed.