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It’s all about respect

Dear Reader,

Ok, it’s been a while since I wrote last and I apologize for my continued absence. Thanks to several friends, some of whom, I’ve known only a month or so, unemployment has been more like a series of short freelance gigs. Guys, I’m truly appreciative.

However, that’s not the subject of tonight’s post. Tonight I want to give props to all my Code Monkey friends out there. Homies, you know who you are.

This was posted on /. yesterday and while it’s one of the greatest songs since ELO broke up, it also made me think. (BTW, none of this should reflect on my current employers. But it could apply to some of my recent employers, you know who you are)

You have to listen to the words of Code Monkey several times before you get the full gist of it. Those of you who are coders have to get past the obvious truths in the first verse and work your way into the song to get the full benefit. (If you don’t understand the first verse then you won’t understand this post because it’s you I’m talking about.)

This song made me remember a truth I had learned a while back and just filed away. (All you Johnny Phoenix fans…raise your toasted Barbie dolls in the air and scream A TRUTH!) There’s an entire group of people out there that make their living off of the work of others. Most of us call them managers, some of us call the PHB’s. (Pointy Headed Bosses, I had to explain it once when I used it in another article, so I’m explaining it here now for you.) Occasionally, we call them worse. Whatever the moniker we place upon them there is one undeniable truth about all middle management, they occupy that position because they can’t or won’t produce. Managers, I don’t care what you say in you defense, I’ve been in both seats. Management rarely produces anything, they manage the production of others.

Here’s a secret that a lot of managers ignore. Most developers are perfectly capable of managing their own production. Heck, I’ve built teams that are perfectly capable of divvying up the management responsibilities amongst themselves and working without a manager. On the other hand, a surprising large number of software development managers cannot code. I had this argument once with the COO of a company I worked for. He proudly proclaimed that “the Sales and the Development departments were the 2 most important departments in the company”. I stared at him blankly. Then I said

“I can pull any one of my developers in here, give them a client list and they can do sales. How many of your salesmen can code?”

(yes, it was a career limiting move, I wasn’t as smart as Code Monkey)

In a software development company, the development department is not one of the most important departments, it is the most important department. It’s not terribly difficult to build a great software development team. Good talented people are out there. The trick is to find them, hire then, then treat them like kings. Once they understand that you respect them and their talents, they will respect you. (Hint: Immediately fire anyone who demands to be treated like a king. Those people will kill a team faster than anything upper management can do.)

So if you are a manager and you’ve made it this far, do me a favor. Go into work tomorrow and personally thank each developer for showing up, as they show up. (Get there before them!) Then, at the end of the day, thank them again when they leave tomorrow night at a reasonable hour. (Yes, that means you are there when they leave!) Let each of them know that you know that they have a choice. They can choose not to work for you. Everybody has a choice. Thank them for choosing to come in; and do it every day. Let them know you respect them, because that’s important to Code Monkeys.

I’ll leave you with this…that again, I’m ashamed to say, I ripped off of /.

“Putt’s Law: Technology is dominated by two types of people: Those who understand what they do not manage. Those who manage what they do not understand.”

Putt was a Code Monkey.

Until next time,