All my professional life has gone in writing software, from tiny microchips to Industrial computers, I have touched them. I am very much proud to say that almost none who worked under me had hated me, or possibly even thought any thing bad about me. There is one simple answer for this: I have never been a bozo like an MBA guy or a management guy. Let me explain what management guys do.
Not long ago, a guy walked into our office and wished us happy independence day, then all of a sudden he said we all must work on the Independence day. The first thing that struck me was, work on that day was kinda illegal. Only certain industries are permitted to work, I don’t think software industry can work on that day. Immediately after he left employees were breathing on my neck. One guy said all in his room had gone to their natives, another guy had booked tickets and was demanding the company to settle it. Their distress was visible. Then by some miracle my boss declared a holiday after I expressed employees distress. If we had office on independence day, I am sure, some thing very bad will crop up in peoples mind.
We work in hi-tech industry. Some how management people are bloody low tech. For them the peak of technology is sending emails, and opening up a spread sheet, and now possibly playing angry birds on their mobile. They certainly do not have any idea what algorithms are, what code optimization is, how much thought goes in creating a computer code. In short they are bozos in our domain. But they are good at one thing we are not good at, that is manipulating people and getting money from them. We tech people simply stick to truth and are very bad at it.
I see this trend, even among my friends who goto management, they simply seems to forget their programming roots. Looks like they escape to management because they like to work hard and long in a stupid way rather than work short and bright way. But being bright is challenging, the brain drains lot of energy, thus people feel difficult to think and rather feel comfortable to be like goats that do something in very repetitive, well defined and successful fashion.
So what this has got to do with project management. Well as a project manager, though you are on management side, you have to keep telling yourself that you are a tech bozo, this will humble you, differentiating you from rest of the management guys. Get involved in coding, see how difficult it is, then you will start to respect your employees rather than demand them. Try to solve their problems, demanding is a very easy thing, even a pig would demand for food. If the Russian Czars understood their peoples problems, they wouldn’t have suffered their terminal fate. Remember in software Industry people are important. Even if they are not, being a human you must respect them.
All I do to people working under me is this:
- I don’t demand then
- I solve their problems
- Give them time to think
- Shield the pressure from management (ultra important)
- Keep them happy as much as I can
And I am very much proud of my record. People “un-controlled” by me excel in skill. Teams under me have done miracles if I shielded them from the bozos. Just remember what happened at Xerox PARC since it was shielded from Xerox head office in the east coast.