Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How Managers and Engineers Tackle Projects Differently

They say you can’t understand someone’s perspective until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Having been both a developer and a manager it’s interesting how the goals, desires and pressures on each differ. Ideally this wouldn’t be the case, but reality doesn’t always match up.

As a developer I always wanted to create the best work possible. If I could use cool new technologies and learn something in the process, even better. I took pride in the products we created, but was more focused on improving my skills and growing as a developer.

As a manager (and I noticed this more as I advanced more) I was focused on balancing competing priorities from customers (internal and external), delivering results as cheaply and quickly as possible, without sacrificing quality, of course, and shielding my development team from all the stuff that makes them less productive.

At times these differences caused conflict. Maybe trying a cool new untested technology is not the best business decision when you need to get something out quickly. Sometimes there was an opportunity to stretch one of your teams with an assignment, sometimes not.

Differing pressures are always going to cause conflict, but with a good dose of mutual trust and understanding they don’t have to be disruptive. As a manager I always tried to do my best to make sure my developers knew that I knew where they were coming from, and then tried to explain where I was coming from--and mostly it seemed to work.

What experiences have you had in this area?  I’d love to hear.


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