Monday, 11 December 2006

The Ingredients of Good Manager/Developer relationships

Take a look at this fantastic letter. In my travels, I've encountered a number of
managers who have broken these rules more often than not. The managers that are
excellent are the ones I still keep in touch with. They live by the "ingredients" I outline below.

A manager's role is to foster the following characteristics within the working environment, thereby building "cohesive leadership and participation" between team members. The first step for a manager to achieve this is by solidifying the manager/developer relationship. A team member's role is to show commitment as an active participant within the team.

The following is my brief list of essential ingredients for healthy developer/manager

  • have open two-way communication
  • have/give trust
  • show integrity and have mutual respect
  • have constant reality checks and remove unrealistic expectations
  • encourage participation in healthy discussions/debates - "the best idea wins"
  • praise in public/adjust behaviours in private
  • show sincerity and empathy
  • be approachable and considerate of other people's contributions

Although these points seem surprisingly simple -- they can only be put into effective practice
by people who live these values in their everyday lives. In order to make your team
follow you and want to follow you (as well as replicate your behaviour) -
a manager must live out these values and lead by example.

Also, a manager who believes that he/she is better than everyone else (or even just has an ego/disposition to suggest this) is worse than a team member who believes the same - a manager should be smart enough to know better. Most people can tell a good manager from a bad one.

A manager's responsiblity is to help remove obstacles from the people around them (by managing downwards to team members, sideways to colleagues, and upwards to upper management).

Contrary to what some people may say, employee turnover isn't always
due to restructuring, "grass is greener syndrome", or a fact of life. Employee turnover
can be a telltale sign of poor management/IT planning. Poor management/IT planning is
a definite result of ignoring the ingredients of good developer/manager relationships.

If you have read this far - take a look at the letter now. It is definitely a good read.

My thanks to the good managers out there.

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