Gentoo Archives: gentoo-user

From: Alan McKinnon <alan.mckinnon@×××××.com>
To: gentoo-user@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-user] {OT} hire a programmer or company?
Date: Tue, 29 May 2012 12:15:20
In Reply to: Re: [gentoo-user] {OT} hire a programmer or company? by Grant
1 On Tue, 29 May 2012 01:34:52 -0700
2 Grant <emailgrant@×××××.com> wrote:
4 > > All these things class as interference. Managers and owners who do
5 > > this have miles of justifiable reasons for doing so, but it's
6 > > always hogwash
7 > > - they interfere, plain and simple.
8 >
9 > This is really interesting to me. Is there a forum/website/book with
10 > more gritty, practical advice like this on managing programmers?
11 > These are the kinds of mistakes I will definitely make if someone
12 > doesn't tell me not to.
14 Everything I know about dealing with technical people is from the
15 school of hard knocks :-)
17 I don't think it's something that can be taught or
18 properly described adequately. But there are some obvious concepts:
20 Programmers are essentially not too different from any other type of
21 technical people, and you are already very familiar with those just by
22 reading gentoo-user. All that stuff we do here wrt top-posting, html
23 mail, udev and pulseaudio developers having strange ideas and
24 (being perceived to be) ramming it down people's throats - all that
25 stuff applies.
27 I don't know how you personally deal with such things but whatever you
28 find works is probably good enough.
30 Techies don't like being second-guessed and told what to do when they
31 are perfectly capable of doing the job properly. This is just a normal
32 human reaction really and is always solved by simple communication. You
33 always have to get to know people first, to get a grip on their
34 personality, and then find out how to successfully interact with them.
35 If you are married, consider what it took to learn how to interact with
36 your wife smoothly :-)
38 > Could you tell me really briefly what a manager *should* do?
40 Ouch. That's another encyclopedia-length answer :-)
42 I'll give you a short oblique answer that seems to work for me:
44 Managers do not lead, they serve. They are not there to call the shots, get covered in glory,
45 be seen as the best of the best or issue decrees. I've been fortunate to
46 have had a few good managers in my working life and they all seemed to
47 instinctively do the same very important thing: make it possible for me
48 to do my job.
50 They would deal with finance issues, they would help find out where new
51 hardware was in the shipping process, they would be a buffer between me
52 and the customer (or between me and the annoying executive). They would
53 publicly cover me in glory when things worked out well and cover my ass
54 when they didn't. And all too often they would clam me down when I went
55 off on one of my rants. The point is, the manager took care of
56 everything on the project except the part about being a programmer :-)
58 Good managers are very good at observing. They don't impose themselves
59 on the job at hand, they watch it and see where things are going great
60 and where things can be improved. They are also patient and only
61 try to improve one thing at a time, getting that thing right then move
62 onto the next thing.
64 My current manager is great, we're both a similar
65 age (mid 40s), and we have an understanding - I'm good at my job and
66 he's good at his. It took a while for both of us to recognize this and
67 build that trust but I think we got it right eventually. The key thing
68 was to communicate to the other guy and be honest and listen. In the
69 beginning there was some "alpha-male" posturing going on and we had to
70 drop that somewhat quickly :-)
72 He's also particular in finding out what the whole team thinks about
73 things, so really listens to our input.
75 That's what I find works for me, but unlike computers I can't put it
76 down in step-by-step fashion that will give a certain result.
78 >
79 > I think I'll try to manage a single programmer working few hours and
80 > see how it goes. My asking stupid questions is due to my lack of
81 > experience and there's only one way to fix that.
83 Sounds to me like you already grasp the essentials :-)
85 Good luck with the project.
87 Oh , one last thing: despite all appearances to the contrary, most
88 people out there can be trusted to do the right thing as far as they
89 are able, and do want to do a good job. Don't let occasional lapses
90 cloud your view of this. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, we all must
91 learn to be tolerant when it happens.
93 --
94 Alan McKinnnon
95 alan.mckinnon@×××××.com


Subject Author
Re: [gentoo-user] {OT} hire a programmer or company? Grant <emailgrant@×××××.com>