Maybe it’s the way of the world, but managers are among the people we generally love to hate, or as we say in our town: jerks.
Developers, on the other hand, tend to think the world revolves around them. A big brain tends to carry a big ego, after all.
So how does a project manager who has a reputation for being a potential jerk lead a team of developers who are stereotyped as egotistical and socially inept? One thing you have to keep in mind if you’re a PM working with developers is that they join forces with individuals who earn their respect. They value a PM who makes their jobs easier for them but at the same time challenges them as well.
If you want developers that won’t treat you as an enemy, we have just what you need. Here are 10 things we’ve found that will make developers un-hate you.
1. Let them code.
Top project managers respect their developers’ space: writing code. A sure-fire way to be hated by your developers is for you to act as if you can write code better. I’m sure you’d hate it as well if someone told you how to do your own job, right? Trust in your developers as they are doing the right thing.
2. Give developers time to get into their flow.
Effective project managers, especially those who have been developers themselves, understand that programming code is a creative process. As such, they let their developers achieve what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow – the state of total concentration or immersion in a task. So make meetings short and simple (and above all scheduled way ahead of time). Pro tip: read up on Scrum meetings.
3. Shield the team from external pressures.
Excellent project managers communicate openly without creating panic. Being the gatekeeper between the development team and the rest of the company, PMs inevitably deal with a lot of pressure from all sides. It can be tough not passing that on to your team. When receiving news, give your developers the facts that they need to know while also being open to questions.
4. Filter out non-developer work.
Developers resent anything that has nothing to do with their actual work of developing apps. Paperwork, corporate meetings and marketing events are among the things that sidetrack them from coding. Use PM tools to decrease non-development tasks for your developers, like Basecamp, Jira and Slack.
5. Know your developers to turn them into a team.
App development is a team sport. Your developers’ tendency toward individualism is a challenge to a PM that needs everyone to work together on a project. To do this, be acquainted with each of your developers. Your developers should see you as part of the team, not as the guy barking orders. Recognize that no two developers are the same and to value their individuality and use that to pull them all together.
6. Take time to listen.
Don’t expect your developers to willingly comply with every decision you make without protest. So, welcome your developers’ input and resist the urge to dismiss them. Also listen to what your developers are not saying. Are they comfortable approaching you? Does their silence mean everything is going fine or it’s the exact opposite? Having an open door leads to more rapport and fewer problems.
7. Help the team deal with deadlines.
A missed deadline is a PM’s nightmare. It’s understandable why this is a touchy subject between developers and PMs. Developers hate it when “unrealistic” deadlines are set, at least from their perspective.The solution is to let the developers create estimates themselves and use the estimates they give you. And yes, as much as possible, don’t shorten the deadline.
8. Share the glory.
Confident project managers know they are rock stars but don’t let it get to their head. The developers do most the work so instead of keeping the credit, top PMs generously give credit to their team. Your developers deserve a pat on the back for a job well done. They work crazy hours beating insane deadlines. Pro tip: add your development team in the comments of the project code, if possible.
9. Keep communication simple.
Trusted project managers don’t force their jargon into their developers’ throats. Developers generally don’t care about the PM’s business as long he helps make their work easier and doesn’t get in the way. So, do away with preaching and drop the management talk to keep you and your developers on the same page.
10. Be open to answering questions.
We’ve touched on this earlier but it’s worth repeating. Learn as much about the project and make sure to be available when your developers have questions about it. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that you’ll get that for them. It’s your job, after all.
All these tips boil down to three basic things: trust your developers to do their work well, help make their work easier, and keep an open line with your developers team. It’s what we do here at Get[Devs] and our developers seem to un-hate us very much.