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I hate developers


This has been building for a while now. I still like software development, but I've decided I hate developers.

I just got back from 2 days training in which developers were the overwhelming majority in the class. In that time:

1) 50% of the questions were not really questions but simply statements designed to make the speaker look smart.

2) 45% of the questions were about edge cases where the proper answer to each was basically: "use your f*cking head, dude".

3) All problems were immediately taken down to the 1' level, despite the fact that we were role playing interaction with a customer who was totally non-technical. Definitely not comfortable looking at a forest without a few trees in the way.

4) Tediously long rants about managers. If I was these guys manager, I'd make their life hell too. Just out of principle.

No doubt these guys are excellent programmers. But there's just something about them that made the entire process painful and irritating. I guess I used to be one of them, but no longer. Maybe I'm mutating into a manager.

anon
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

"No doubt these guys are excellent programmers."

Whoa, let's not jump to any conclusions, now. :)

Rob VH
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

That is wickedly surreal!  Yesterday, I just posted a short article to my blog about the same thing!!  Here's what I wrote.  This may be a little length so feel free to move on.

If you've been in software development any amount of time, you probably have suffered through "ego wars". This may be between you and another developer or maybe you've just witnessed two developers go at it like drunks in a bar. You may have had your ego bruised, bruised another's ego or spent two hours in the bathroom with your pants around your ankles crying like the little girl you are! Either way this is a phenomena that affects many professions (medicine, law, law enforcement, etc). But since I'm not a doctor AND I don't play one on T.V., I will focus only on the software development side.

Why?
Why do developers feel the need to belittle others? Or do they? Is it possible that the meanest, grinchiest of developers is completely unaware of their substandard social skills? Do they secretly relish in your embarassment and green-ness? For the most part, I do not believe they do. Despite the pedestal we like to place ourselves on, developers are only people and software development is only work. It may be inspired and creative work but what make software development more important/respectable than plumbing? Nothing! "So?", you ask me, "'Was' Up?".

Competition
There is a HUGE amount of competition in the software industry. There are few, if any, other industries like it. It's largely technical, unlike marketing, accounting, human resources, pharmaceuticals, etc. It is constantly changing, unlike medicine, dentistry, law. Here me out on this one. While I agree the technologies used to treat people are changing, the knowledge that a doctor needs to have doesn't not change at the same pace as development. It's not like Dr. Hibbert has to go to DoctorDays 2004 to learn how to deal with Humans 2.0. All this leads to an enormous amount of pressure on the developers shoulders to constantly be up to date with the technologies and techniques.

Insecurity
Due to the above (Competition), developers are often an insecure group. Now don't go thinking about developers who grew up as social lepers and still to this day have their underwear labeled. I my short 4+ years of development experience, less than 10% of the developers I know could be called lepers. Maybe smelly, but not lepers. The insecurity, I believe, comes from wanting to be the best, wanting to outperform the others. Developers are perfectionists, that in part is what drove them to programming in the first place. We need to be #1 and if we're not...there will be hell to pay.

Lack of Time
A good portion of programmer ego comes from lack of time. When you look at a typical professional throughout their day, you will be able to know when they're working. Take our Dr. Hibbert, if he is talking with a patient, he is busy. If he is staring out the window, well, he's just staring out the window. If you look at a programmer, you DON'T know if they are busy. Take Lucy Programmer, if she is typing on her computer, she may be surfing porn at break-neck speed, or she may be working. If she is staring out the window, she may have just mentally solved a problem with her company's API that will save the company $$$$$. Then you come up to her and ask her how to get rid of that paper-clip thingey in your "typing application" and POOF...all that $$$$$ and effort is gone. Her reaction may appear to you as though she has an ego.

shiggins
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Except item #2, I don't think the described behavior is specific to developers. IMHO, many if not most middle-managers show the other aspects;-)

R Chevallier
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

As a developer, let me generalize - Humans are insecure. This problem is not limited to developers.

m
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

That sure sounds like most of the meetings and training sessions I've been to, developers or not. That includes PTA meetings and neighborhood associations. I just hate them.

tk
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Don't be hatin'!

anon
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One other thing that separates programmers from other professionals is the unbelievable capacity for whining. Well, next to teachers anyways. That was a joke, for the sarcasm impaired.

I don't think you want to make the comparison to doctors. I've known a few, and each of them worked harder, read more in their off-hours and had more pressure & stress than any programmer I've known.

Nigel
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Oh, man this is great!  I thought I was the only one who went through this. 

I have been to many training classes with the characteristics you describe.  I haven't noticed the large percentages you have, but maybe because I don't go to developer classes, but more of the Application server classes, (Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint, Biztalk, etc.), so I get more IT/Admin types than developers. 

The "look how smart I am types"  are the most prevalent, at least one per class.  If you are unlucky enough to have two or more, look out!  A competion will break out and you will get even less covered than normal. 

Seeing these type there did not surprise me.  But....what did surprise me was seeing the following so often:

The "Microsoft really sucks don't they" guy.  Now, I'm not talking about pointing out legitimate issues that people need to be aware of.  I'm talking about REPEATEDLY making comments like "Well, I guess we see where Bill's getting his dollar on that one, guys, right?" , "Well, the boys in Redmond must have been smoking one that day, eh?"  I mean, I guess those kinds of comments are kind of funny the first couple of times, but a whole week of it.  Wears waaaaaay thin.

Anyway, just glad I'm not the only one who sees this stuff.

Thanks

Jason
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

This describes what I call the "nerd effect".

These are the types of people that had no sense of style or social skills.  They sat together in the front row of physics in college, and snowed on the row behind them.  These are the people that were more concerned with their own intellect than any portion of the world around them.

We called these people "tools" and the row in physics was the "tool belt".  Not totally inappropriate as one of them had this monster of a leatherman that he wore on his large leather belt on his hiked up pants which always had his sweaters tucked into them, but not in the suave Carey Grant type of way.

Somehow I don't find it odd that these people appear in heavy concentrations in this industry.  We all knew these people in college (and some of us hated them), is it really such a shock that they have found their way into the workforce mostly unchanged?

My all time favorite behavior of "tools" is the ability to ask a question for askings sake.  By asking any question regarless of how off topic, inappropriate, or mundane (in that the answer is written on the board) it identifes them to the professor as someone genuinely interested in what they teach.  After lectures these people might often have a bit of brown on the end of their noses.

Elephant
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

It's funny I'm listening to the book on CD "A Beautiful Mind" (nothing like the movie BTW) about the life of John Nash, and the author definitely depicts the guy as a borderline sociopath.  Here was what may have been the smartest mathemetician of his generation and he was a complete knucklehead- egotistical, insecure, brash.  What's more the guy was no pimply-faced geek, more like a cary grant.  Of course, he was also clinically insane for most of his adult life.  Does intelligence just go hand in hand with a lack of social skills?

Ken
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Ken,

If I may be a tool for a moment, the guy in "A Beautiful Mind", the real guy I mean not necessarily as portrayed in the book (which I haven't read) was, I believe, a paranoid schizophrenic, not a sociopath.  A sociopath is basically a person without a conscience.  I have never heard Dr. Nash described as such.

name withheld out of cowardice
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I've been thinking the same thing lately.

One thing I've noticed on programming forums is that a lot of questions start out with "I've been programming for X years, but I've never done such and such ...". 

Programming is a huge field, and it would be impossible for anyone to know everything.  But instead of just asking the questions, these people feel compelled to establish themselves as non-newbies.  Maybe it's just ego, but I think it's mainly out of fear of being slammed.

I have taken part in a number of non-programming professional forums (quality, manufacturing, and FDA/medical device related), and the biggest difference I see is the rudeness.

Some programmers are just plain rude, take pleasure in making jabs, and always try to one up each other.  Still, I think it's a small, but highly noticeable, percentage of the profession that act this way. [And they're usually the younger ones ;-)]

Nick
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Thanks for the correction.  Just to clarify, when I used the term "borderline sociopath"(incorrectly), I was referring to the generally anti-social  behavior he exhibited before he became a schizophrenic, not his illness itself.

Ken
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

anon, if it's any comfort, I'm sure the developers hate you too. ;)

Andrew Burton
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

(God, what a great thread! Joel's elves should socially engineer this thread with a bolded title.)

A few things:

The "professions" (law and medicine, and some publicly presented services like real estate and accounting) have always seemed to have strict social standards against any badmouthing, even justified statements of fact. In contrast, programmers and IT people, and in some cases the sales people themselves, will go off on a feeding frenzy on a presumed less competent peer. We do have a reputation of being "more real" in some dimensions, but as a rule programmers and like types never-but-ever give each other the benefit of the doubt.

And I wonder if the lack of interpersonal skills is only the domain of programmers. Maybe it's systemic in IT. I've gone to Microsoft product and other vendor events in the past that felt like meetings of Borg drones.

Lastly - as anon posted, the lack of common sense of programmers and other "deep" techies is profound.

Bored Bystander
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I think since so many nerds see movies, read literature, and hear talks from uber-geeks with just plain out lack of social skills it becomes a badge of honor in a rebellious sort of way. IE - I don't have to have social skills because _all_ great thinkers are assholes (never mind the truth). Just because they aren't Einstein doesn't mean they can't act like an over-educated dick and try to belittle you to prove their supposed worth.

trollbooth
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Take a look at the original post.  Notice how a sharp distinction is made between developers and management.

I'd say all these bad social skills has to do with developers being a breed of computer user bred to crave attention and recognition.  They strongly believe their knowledge is important, but they are often separated from the users of their creations, so they live in an atmosphere where any meaningful measuring stick must be invented.  And since many corporate environments frown upon real passion, this self-observation becomes twisted.  They start taking pride in minor preoptimizations and early generalizations.  They are stuck alone for hours with their knowledge and buggy machines.

This is why people probably shouldn't think of themselves as "developers."  That's a large equivalence class to be in, and if your definition is pretty inclusive, you'll indentify yourself with a lot of people you probably wouldn't like.

However, I can think of one nitpicky jerk I kind of like hearing from occasionally; he tries to say insightful things and realizes his flaws, and I suspect he just gets bored of normal modes of communication.  Coolheaded people tend to do well with him.  So not all jerks are alike. ;)

Tayssir John Gabbour
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I think of myself as a hacker. That way I can seperate myself from regular developers but still be a dick.

trollbooth
Wednesday, February 18, 2004


I think the original poster's observation might relate to the type of activity - a training session. Formal training courses for technical issues are not needed for professionall developers.

me
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Good point.  We should make them go to formal training for social issues.  Probably be more effective then the three day waste of time but got me out of the office technical seminars.

Elephant
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I have some observations:

The standard student culture is to attend class, and either pay attention or doodle or daydream or sleep.  They sit in the front, the middle, the rear of the class.

Counter-culture is the students who pipe up often, are super-attentive, make jokes to the teacher/professor often.  One of my friends does this, and I told him to limit himself to one joke a day.

Counter-counter-culture are the students sitting in the back, quietly making jokes about the students in the front.

Counter-counter-counter-culture are the students sitting in the back, shaking their heads at the 'smarter' students in the back row, and shaking their heads at the awful jokes and/or questions from the front row.

Counter-counter-counter-counter-culture students don't attend class.

Counter-counter-counter-counter-counter-culture students are indistinguishable from standard students (see the first item).

pds
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Should anyone expect these type of individuals to behave any differently than they do? For one thing, many employers actively pursue people who have these personality traits. They put job candidates through several technical interviews or stick them in front of a computer and ask them to take a bunch of logic or programming tests.

Many good coders devote most of their waking hours to the only passion they have in life. I suppose I too would rate low on the emotional intelligence scale if I had such an intense passion for doing only one thing really well in life.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Whats the term for people who like to stereotype people.

When I attend a training course I will ask whatever it takes for me to understand what I am being instructed in.

Where the person delivering the information knows what they are talking about it is rare that the 'question for the sake of a question' or 'brain brigade' pipe up.

Where the course being given is presented by some plonker referring to a set of slides they saw yesterday...then I am grateful for the interruptions !

Ive sat in training with developers, managers, ship builders, teachers, car manufacturers etc.

Can I say...all of them are blessed with equal smatterings of the socially inept, the genuinly funny, the geeky and the w@nkers.

It is egotistical in itself to think we developers are any more special than the other artisans of the world.

DoWoodenLegsGoToHeavan
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

All human beings need to feel valued by others; we're social creatures after all.  Think of it llike your daily vitamin requirement.  Not only do you need a certain amount of validation (which is different for each person), you need it from a variety of sources, to stay happy and secure.

Well adjusted people have received enough validation and so don't feel the need to show off.  The ones who show off a lot have either been starved of it throughout their life, especially during childhood, or they've only received it in a limited way (for example, only on how they score on tests).

Here's some over generalizing, to make a point.  Most developers are nerds, and we all know how nerds are put down as kids in school.  After living under the tyranny of athletic jocks and the terror of locker-room wedgies, these nerds escaped to college where their intellect had more value.  They finally had a taste of being the alpha male (though only in a limited sense, since they still can't score chicks).

Now these insecure people work in a career that doesn't have much social prestige, unlike being a doctor (I can't bring myself to say lawyer).  On top of that, most developers aren't valued by their companies.  Upper management treats them as a necessary evil.

So when geeks gather en masse, they act no differently than insecure atheletic boys.  They assert their superiority by bullying and putting each other down.  They flex and strut their stuff.  They're basically trying get the validation that they're not getting from their day to day work environment.

Yes, the behaviour is annoying.  Yes, they need to grow up.  Yes management has a right to want developers to stop acting this way, BUT management has a responsibility to make sure their developers are treated with respect.

Stupid little "We Value You!" trophies and certificants don't mean squat.  They're cheap copouts.  The way you silently treat your people speaks more.

Whenever management refuses to upgrade a developer's Pentium 150 MHz computer because it costs to much, you're saying, "Even though we pay you 5 figures, you're not worth more than a $1,000 computer".  When you herd developers into a noisy work enviroment full of distractions, you're saying, "You're nothing more than stupid cattle."  When you start telling the front line people how to do their jobs, you're saying "We don't trust you to do the right thing."

Of course developers are notoriously bad at communicating, not effectively selling ideas, and seeing only the technical issues while being blind to the business ones.  They also have a habit of just complaining without implementing solutions.

On the other hand a good number of developers do try but management...You can go on and on criticizing both sides, but in the end everyone's to blame for the current state of affairs. 

Well, that ends my bit of armchair psycho-babble.

VP
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

"I just got back from 2 days training"

Well, there's your problem. ;)

Does anyone actually find training sessions such as these useful? I more more useful than spending a couple of days reading a book or webpages about the subject instead?

I actually find the opposite problem that anon does. I find that the speaker is usually either trying to make him/herself seem clever, or is presenting stupid things that should be common sense. Often trying to do both at the same time, which just sends me to sleep.

Maybe that's why audience questions don't bother me - I've already lost any and all interest by that point.

Sum Dum Gai
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

>Whenever management refuses to upgrade a developer's Pentium 150 MHz computer because it costs to much, you're saying, "Even though we pay you 5 figures, you're not worth more than a $1,000 computer".  When you herd developers into a noisy work enviroment full of distractions, you're saying, "You're nothing more than stupid cattle."  When you start telling the front line people how to do their jobs, you're saying "We don't trust you to do the right thing."
When were you at my desk?

Also, I think it's unfair to compare Doctors to Programmers.  Most of the Doctors that we see are social beings, the see patients every 15 minutes.  Most programmers don't.  We need to compare Research Doctors (?) with programmers, I suspect that they are more similar than not.  However, Developers need both skills and the social skills need to increase as 'careers progress'.
David

David Freeman
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The overall difference is in the subject matter.  Don't compare developers to doctors; compare them to salesmen.

Software development is a very deterministic activity, comparatively.  Code moves from state to state; it compiles or it doesn't; it compiles, but it crashes on startup; it runs, but crashes under certain circumstances.  When we write code, we articulate logic, making a strong effort to simplify cases and provide deterministic outcomes.  Underlying all this is the mindset that there is a clear fact of the matter; we may not perceive it clearly, we may be desperately trying to hunt it down; but it's there.

Given that our normal topic is much more black and white than the norm, it's understandable that it attracts personalities that are drawn to strong opinions, clear ideas, and orderly minds; and that are frustrated and angered by the ambiguity, double meanings, and general slipperiness that are the hallmarks of social skills.

Salesmen, on the other hand, depend upon that vagueness in negotiations and dealing with customers.  The best salesmen is one who can convince you that black is white, and get you to pay him for the job.

Given the above, any differences between coders are likely to be somewhat confrontational, and any encounter with ambiguity is met with an assertive and rigid response.

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

David,

I agree, it's a shame developers don't interact with customers as much as a doctor does with theirs.  They get less of a chance to practice their social skills and become too removed from the results of their work.


Justin,

Good point about developers having a distaste for ambiguity.  "If people would only be as consistent as computers!"  And how a preference for black and white thinking leads to more confrontation.


I also agree with DoWooden and Sum Dum Gai about poor instructors.  When it comes to technical matters, developers have a fast BS detector and little patience.

VP
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Justin,

For a fleeting moment I had the impression that you were referring to lawyers, not salesmen ;-)

I doubt training would have any long-term impact on Developers. Getting bad social skills is an occupational hazard. Comes with the job.

It takes a tremendous amount of personal effort as a low-level, code crunching developer in a large organization with nested hierarchies to get anywhere near the likes of a job that works with other humans. It's just not the natural state of things. Here's my experience with this:

When I started as a Developer, I did not like the social part of the job. In fact, I hated it and rebelled against it. I found that I had to sit at my desk all day and churn out code.

They hired me to milk my brains. That's all they wanted. Not the face, not the personality - just the brains.

The only people I faced were:

+ co-workers (who are also busy pumping out code as fast as they can)
+ boss (who was once a developer)
+ user (if I was lucky).

The number of people I talked to in a day can be counted on one hand.

On the field, I found very small chances of grooming that social side. Conversation with people outside the industry are usually peppered with comments like "I have no idea what you are talking about" (read: Most people are not interested in what developers do).

Our performance was measured fully by how well our codes worked. Nope, nothing to do with people.

Amongst coworkers, I found that they have the strange wild idea that a single person can save the day. That one person is all it takes to deliver the next killer app. If there is team work, the code is cleanly divided into modules such that 2 or more developers can work on the same project without having to meet. Each to his own. And they liked it that way. They would often strong-arm would be opponents to keep away from his turf so that one person stands alone in his domain. Yet another chance for people skills killed.

Therefore, if a person has any semblance of social skills, these are bound to be degraded when he turns into a Developer. Imagine sitting in front of a computer the whole day, talking to it by typing oodles and oodles of code - a language that does not come naturally to humans. It warps the mind. If you are a Developer, and if you have encoutered moments where you go, "What's that word for this..." - you'd know what I mean.

And like Justin mentioned in his post, it's black and white for Developers. The more you think like a computer, the better you become at your job. That's not human either.

And that's the way it is. Perhaps not for everyone. For me, it took tremendous amount of conscious effort to break away from the spiral and it's still in the works...

Froggy
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Froggy,

>> I found that I had to sit at my desk all day and churn out code.

>> They hired me to milk my brains. That's all they wanted. Not the face, not the personality - just the brains.

These sentences, plus the rest of your post,  is one of the truest, and saddest, angles I've yet read about this occupation. 

Well stated. Most geeks don't realize what a trap the work can be.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, February 19, 2004

I'm gonna hang out with my wang out...

GuyIncognito
Thursday, February 19, 2004

"Of course developers are notoriously bad at communicating, not effectively selling ideas, and seeing only the technical issues while being blind to the business ones.  They also have a habit of just complaining without implementing solutions."

Well, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that developers are not given the "rose-colored glasses" that businesspeople wear.  They're free to think entirely in the abstract about technical problems, and they never have to deal directly with the consequences.

And with developers, the consequences are fierce.  We recieve both the burden of blame and the burden of fixing the actual problem, usually under pressure.

If you're one of the "really lucky" ones who gets to interact with customers directly, that stress is just multiplied by the embarassment of putting your fallibility out there; and being the face and voice of the company's inability to perform.  There are certainly two sides to that "social skills" coin, even if one does get to practice building rapport.

With businesspeople, the element of negotiation is much stronger.  When problems arise, there's the freedom to play strategist and reduce its scope, or negotiate a change to a different problem.

Developers have no such luxury; that's partly because we have no clout as businesspeople--a professional trait that serves us very poorly.  It's also partly because at some level, our job does not afford negotiation; when we're working overtime, it's not on a PowerPoint presentation; it's on a real bug or feature that requires a surgical mindset to complete.  Negotiation does not enter first into our minds as a solution to problems.

Although I certainly agree with the "social ineptitude" angle in this thread; that there are unsavory people amongst us, I think we should all consider the broader problem that has been discussed very often in this industry.

And that is, developers need project management that can shield them from organizational and business problems, and deliver their concerns upward.

What is often considered "social ineptness" amongst developers, I think is more often bad or nonexistant project management.  Because charisma only goes so far; a lot of sales is in the proper presentation of information.  That requires both time and practice, and a "buying" mindset (ie, trust) on the part of the prospect.

When we're bleeding through the ears with the details of our work, proper selling is impractical.  Competent project managers should be salespeople; able to act as filters for busy developers.

Does that improve our political standing within an organization?  Certainly not.  But that's a different issue.  At the very least, it allows us to do our work effectively, and it addresses the real problem that good selling is time-consuming and difficult, instead of relegating it to stereotypes about social ineptness.

indeed
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Indeed,

You have some valid points

>And that is, developers need project management that can shield them from organizational and business problems, and deliver their concerns upward.

Yes, Project Managers do fill in the gap nicely. PMs generally do a good job shielding the Developer from the negotiation and people aspects of the project. However, looking at it from the other angle - it also means that the Developer does not get exposed to these areas.

Actually, it's not a bad thing. There's obviously a conflict of interest if the Developer takes on both roles. Just that, as before, the Developer meets no one but his 'puter.

My point is: It takes a huge conscious effort on the part of the Developer not to slip into the me-and-my-computer syndrome.

Froggy
Thursday, February 19, 2004

About social ineptness as an occupational hazard for developers:
Developers are not the only professionals who are affected by this. I am looking for a new job and dealing a lot with recruitment agencies. People who work there are basically salespeople, and I have noticed that some, or should I say most, are so used to talking things up (both the job and the candidate) that they are unable to tell the straight truth, even if it is the best thing to do and it is easy to find out that they are not telling the truth. This is not normally looked upon as social ineptness, in the way of "geeky" developer social ineptness, but I think it is an occupational hazard in the same way.

If I by hte way have to choose between these occupational hazards, I'd rather be looked upon as a geek than someone untrustworthy.

x
Thursday, February 19, 2004

"Why?
Why do developers feel the need to belittle others? Or do they? Is it possible that the meanest, grinchiest of developers is completely unaware of their substandard social skills?"

Could this be typical of a field whose culture is dominantly rooted in extended puberty?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, February 19, 2004

pds,

have you considered a carreer in athropology?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, February 19, 2004

The better the developer, the more logical the mind. All that logic pushes out empathy and emotional response. Worse, if you are logical, it is self evident that emotion is a waste of resources and that the most efficient mode of life is just for everybody to say exactly what they want. If their colleagues take offence, they ain't logical & ain't efficient.

BOTV
Thursday, February 19, 2004

There are actually many developers who are good at their job and also good at "communication."

The problem is, as others have alluded to, that corporations don't like developers like that, and they don't hire them. Except for the top environments like Microsoft.

Me and the view out the window
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Me and the view out the window,

Yah we interviewers at lower rung companies
flock to the socially retarded. We hope to get
idiots and jerks of every type. You figured
us out.

son of parnas
Thursday, February 19, 2004

Indeed,

"
And with developers, the consequences are fierce.  We recieve both the burden of blame and the burden of fixing the actual problem, usually under pressure.
"

Interesting observation.  That double whammy can make it harder to do your work.  If I'm helping some else track down their bug, it feels fun.  But when it's my bug, you're right, the sense of guilt and burden does make it 10x harder.

"
If you're one of the "really lucky" ones who gets to interact with customers directly, that stress is just multiplied by the embarassment of putting your fallibility out there; and being the face and voice of the company's inability to perform.  There are certainly two sides to that "social skills" coin, even if one does get to practice building rapport.
"

I have a friend who's a Field Application Engineer and he works closely with customers.  He talks about feeling demoralize because always hears about the problems with his company's product from the customers (company is pretty responsive but they work on the bleeding edge so there are always problems).  Even though he's not directly responsible for the problems, he does represent his company and he takes it very personally.

I've had the opposite experience where I'm extremely issolated from the customer.  Sometimes I have to do the leg work to find out the customer is having a problem with a feature that I implemented, but somehow the news didn't get back to me.  I guess I have a bit of the "grass is greener on the other side" syndrome.  I suppose I should becareful for what I wish for...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Indeed.

VP
Thursday, February 19, 2004


  Dealing with customers complaints can be tough, indeed.  I've been there, and I really don't miss this part of the Job.

  The other side, on the other hand, is very enjoyable.  Getting a user compliment for a new and useful feature is very rewarding.

 

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Thursday, February 19, 2004

son of parnas, are you one of these people who gives candidates "technical tests" and looks for evidence of being "a team player?"


Thursday, February 19, 2004

I am the only developer at this company and I am put in the role of developer and system analyst, I talk to the customers, talk to these people and those people.  I am not a very social person, but I do my best when it comes to people.  I don’t have any experience working with other programmers in the same company, and I wish this happened, I wish I was able to talk to other programmers about the current projects and feed off each other. 

I think management should let the programmers talk to each other, work on the same projects(modules) not have cubicles, but long tables with dividers about 1 foot off the table so everyone can talk and see each other.  Developers need more interaction, between one another, and we need management that understands this and what is need by the developers.

At my place of work, they didn’t really have a full time programmer in the past, and only one person has worked with programmers, and everyone but one person don’t even know what it takes to write code.

My direct boss ( the only person that has worked with programmers will tell me this )  I need a program that does xxx and I need it by tomorrow morning..  I am looking at my watch and its 3pm and sometimes I don’t know how to use a system ( an application sdk ) to make this program with. and I end up working all through the morning till I am done.  If it works then I get a "good job".  Back to work at 9am, and I am expected to work all day, sometimes its worse. 

The last time this happened was about 2 weeks ago, he came up to me and said I need this program, he though I could do it in a few hours, but I ran into some big problems and he told the customer they would have it by tomorrow morning.  Well it wasn’t done by the next morning, I got 4 hours sleep in 2 days, I was so tired.  The weekend came and I left for a day even though the project wasn’t finished I said I will be back and I will get it done, then he says well I would recommend you finish the project first, but I left anyway and came back and fixed the problem in an hour. 

Then after all of that, all I got was awesome it works, thanks.  This is complete BS I am sure this happens at other places, and its really tuff.  I am told I am not big value to the company, I don’t bring in money as other people do, well I am a programmer I bring in money indirectly..  AHHHHHHHH!

I am sorry but I am just bitching.  Anyone else go through this or has gone through this?

David

David
Thursday, February 19, 2004

David: you've proved your boss is right. You can get it done by the morning.

Others: developers aren't always alone in this mindset; one weakness of one of the presidential campaigns is the candidate himself, who seems to lack much of the 'fluffyness' or empathy required of a good salesman/politician. Perhaps it is something those of us with similar personalities can learn from.

mb
Thursday, February 19, 2004

I give technical and philosophical tests. I don't explicitly
look for team playerness. If somone strikes me as
it know-it-all-die-before-i-will-change-my-mind
kind of person then i would not hire them.

Most people suck so bad what kind of team player
they are isn't usually an issue.

son of parnas
Thursday, February 19, 2004

David,

I totally agree with you.  Lack of interaction is a major morale killer for me, and I even work in the same building with a lot of fellow engineers.

I half agree with the common programming area thing.  There are times when I _need_ uninterupted isolation to get through a conceptually tough problem.  On the other hand, I think my productivity would improve in general if I was in close proximity with other people who are on the same project as me.

I think a hybrid layout with private spaces and public spaces would be best, with laptops that you can use to move around with.  Then people aren't forced into one environment or another.  Of course it's not your typical setup and will be challenging to convince management...but while you're at it, you should ask for offical napping areas (it's logged so that no one can abuse it).  There are times where a 20 minute nap would vastly improve my productivity for the rest of the day.  Ah well, enough day dreaming.

Major bummer about your boss.  I'm also too compliant.  I don't like to disappoint people.  And I'm passive in that I unrealistically want my bosses to be able to read my mind and know how give me the things I need to be happy and productive.

Though it's easy to say and hard to do, you need to work on managing your boss and communicating the realities of the assignments he gives you.  Those are skills I'm still working on.  But in the end if you dont' do something about it you're only gonna burn yourself out, which is a loss to both you and your boss.  You'll hate your job/career/life and your boss will suddenly lose a productive worker when you lose it and quit without warning.

There's a great article by Nick Corcodilos called "Burnout:  Falling towards success."  Unfortunately I can't find it, even with Google.  I was planning to email him some time about it.

Anyways, thanks for sharing your experiences David, and best of luck with managing your boss!

VP
Thursday, February 19, 2004

I did not see that specific article, but here are a collection of them by the same person:
http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/articles.htm

Lumbergh
Monday, February 23, 2004

Business 101

1. Don’t slag off competitors nor their products

2. You never fail you have just found a way something doesn’t work

3. Never attack peoples competence with hindsight

4. When disaster strikes don’t look for people to blame look for a way to fix it the problem and get back on track

I do love the way developers keep comparing themselves with Doctors rather than mechanics and plumbers. I am a business development manager and the thought of putting developers in front of clients makes my blood run cold. You see Doctors are trained in "bed side manner" and therefore can be trusted not to scare the hell out of the patient before an operation.

Developers love to put the fear of God into clients. They drone on and on  about security and how a hacker could do this or that and focusing on all negative Bill Gates issues. Which is jealousy, Gates is a business man first and a developer second and that is why he is successful.

If I could get a team of developers who would think before they speak the world would be mine and Gates would be ma bitch.

Steve Jobs
Friday, April 02, 2004

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