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Another take on management

Reading another thread today about the role of managers kinda made me think that a lot of people have a conceptually different idea of a manager than I do.

__Here's Mine___
Managers exist to ensure that everyone is driving towards the same goal, and to clear obstacles in the paths of all involved.

<shareholder> We want to make money
<chairman> I think we can do this by making widgets
<CEO> To make money by making widgets we need X from sales, Y from manufacturing etc etc
<Manufacturing VP> to produce Y, I need x development teams each giving A, B and C
<B Manager> To produce B, we need to have Coder K, L, M producing this stuff by ....

Change the size of the heirachy if you want, but the role of the manager is to produce deliverables. Some do it by threatening you with layoff, others get their staff to buy into their vision.

Either way, call him what you will, even your manager has a manager. And as you move up the heirachy, the vision gets grander and grander!

__Take on JOS__
Managers exist solely to sweat coders.  He does nothing else.

<JOS Manager> "move this pile of rubble from here to there"
<Coder> Why?
<JOS Manager> because I like it there
<Coder> but it is wasted effort
<JOS Manager> please pack your stuff and leave

Sounds more like a foreman than a manager.... and all the jobs I know that have foremen are pretty menial!

Is that what software development has been reduced to? The foremen do all the thinking, and all the code monkeys do is translate that into code?

Does any developer on this forum have a proper manager, (not the Program Manager  ala MS) and not just a foreman.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


MyManager: I need this
Me: Why? What will it be used for?
MM: It will help make this decision
Me: How are is that decision being made now?
MM: Like so...
Me: I can do that. Are there other factors that you would like to account for but currently don't?
MM: Yes! I'd like X, Y, and Z
Me: Hmm. X is in conflict with the current method. How would you like to resolve that?
MM: Hmm. X is gone.
Me: Z depends on X, so if X goes, Z goes...
MM: Hmm. That's fine, I guess. For now. Let me think on it, but start work assuming Y but no X or Z.
Me: OK. <exit stage left to windowless dungeon>

Not always, but typical.

Ron Porter
Thursday, April 15, 2004

My old manager:  We need to do X
Me: why?
My old manager: don't ask, I've already decided.

Mr. Analogy
Thursday, April 15, 2004

IMO, coders should have some ability as designers and some ability to do rudementary cost/benefit analysis.  Unfortunately, it isn't always immediately obvious who has these skills.  i.e. Joe and Mary are both Senior Engineers, with 12 years experience, making the same salary.  Mary may be able to provide worthwhile design input while Joe may be technically competant, but not have a knack for making product decisions.

This discrepency doesn't translate well into the hierarchical model of Project Manager/Designer/Coder.

Where I work, there are staff that I consistently listen to, and others that I politely tune out because they "don't get it".  I'm forced to do this, as there are lots of ideas and opinions floating around here and I can't take them all seriously.

In order to have a voice, a coders proposals needs to focus on how something will reduce costs, benefit the customer, and most importantly, make the department look good.  Personally, I'm much more likely to entertain a suggestion that makes work easier and less complex than an idea which adds to project complexity.

Also aiding in having a voice:

- Listen to your boss, especially if he likes to talk.  People like to be listened to.
- Dress nicely.
- Present ideas in writing.  Give a "deadline" that you need a decision by.
- Don't fight losing battles.  Use your "pull" in situations where you'll likely have an effect.
- Be on the winning side of any turf wars, even if it's not the side you'd pick.  You'll have more influence that way.
- Analyse the personality of your manager and use this to tailor your persuasion techniques.  You are doing sales, so books on sales might be helpful to study.

All this goes out the window if your organization has the dreaded incompetant/arrogant combination.  If that's the case, either quit, or put in your 40 and just eat it.

Bill Carlson
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Manager: Has been given task by upper management. Her high salary ( three times that of the unwashed he manages) depends on achieving that task. Doesn't understand development and is always worried the developers might undermine her. Sacks any that seem on the verge of this.

Developer: Has years of experience achieving difficult tasks. Knows managers often issue directions that are wrong, and that sometimes conflict with apparent goals. Understands that to seriously question this results in bad rating and eventually dismissal. Smiles and pretends to be co-operative.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Managers should be shit-umbrellas. When the shit comes down from above they keep it from hiting you so you can do your job.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I heard it sort of the same way, except the employees were the umbrella and the manager was the one under it. At least from a manager perspective.

Anon-y-mous Cow-ard
Friday, April 16, 2004

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