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Respect Redux

Dear Reader,

Thanks to my friend Alison for pointing out this article,The unspoken truth about managing geeks. This is a must read for everyone who manages IT professionals. From Manager, to Director, to the VP and C-Level, if you have IT professionals below you on your company’s org chart you owe it to yourself and your developers to read this article.


One of the first points the author makes is that developers want respect.

for IT groups respect is the currency of the realm.

This is one of my favorite quotes in the article because it is so true. It’s also true that many in management don’t understand this and that’s sad. I wrote about respect back in 2006 in the blog post “It’s all about respect” and the fact that management can’t seem to understand this fact led me to write “Leadership in Software Development“, which encourages developers to step up into management so that the next generation of developers can have managers that understand this.

Jeff Ello, the author of “The unspoken truth about managing geeks” touches on several points that strike so close to home that I wonder if he’s not been watching the same things I have lately.

Just because you don’t like what is being said, doesn’t mean the other person is whining

Other than respect, I think the next most important take away from this article is made on the second page in the section about “victim mentality”.

IT pros are sensitive to logic — that’s what you pay them for. When things don’t add up, they are prone to express their opinions on the matter, and the level of response will be proportional to the absurdity of the event.

I’ve personally seen several scenarios play out recently that can be directly attributed to this behavior. In all cases, the “management” attributed disagreement from a developer as whining and ego when in fact things were going on that were not logical and therefore someone said something. What was said, was said in a “manner of fact” way and taken wrong because the person it was said to failed to realize the point of view of the speaker. (I’m being vague here on purpose)

I love Jeff’s call to action to help resolve some of the communication issues:

“Periodically, bring a few key IT brains to the boardroom to observe the problems of the organization at large, even about things outside of the IT world, if only to make use of their exquisitely refined BS detectors.”

To paraphrase, when your developers are complaining, don’t call them whiners or write it off to ego, look past the surface complaint and find out what the problem is. Chances are, there’s a real problem there and managers ignore it at their own risk. This is closely related to one of the points I bring out in “Open Teams”, transparency. Talking to your developers, listening to them and sharing both the good news and bad news will let you tap the brain trust you have built in your IT department to solve the problems that are facing your company.

I’m encouraged that others are saying these things now but still a bit depressed because even though others are saying these things, the people that need to read them, aren’t.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

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