The Joys Of Programming

It's just one of those oddities from being a kid or young adult where you are supposed to take pride in doing the work while being a successful (for some definitions) adult is getting paid to make other people do your work.

I feel better about delegating nowadays, although it's still not my first instinct.

However, this week I was forced to delegate a fix effort for something I overlooked in the first place. Management wanted me to stay focused on other things.

That didn't feel so good. :\

Don't look at it as, "asking people to do things I could do myself" and look at it as "asking people to get things done that I don't have time to do".

Also, consider this, "I can be selfish and do the fun and interesting things and delegate the mundane or boring things to others."

When I was a manager of a large team, I always thought of it as being the conductor to an orchestra. Sure, the players are doing the heavy lifting, but I'm the one who's brought it all into a cohesive *system*.

Having said that, I hated the fact that I was a MS-Office jockey and meeting-attendee rather than playing with all the new, cool technology. So I backed away from management and ended my career as an individual contributor.

If you really have a hard time delegating, maybe management wasn't the right choice. In my experience the worst managers are the ones that used to be engineers, especially if they are promoted from within.

kazar wrote:

In my experience the worst managers are the ones that used to be engineers, especially if they are promoted from within.

Conversely, every ex-engineer manager I've ever had has been awesome, for the one simple reason that they have a nuanced understanding of what the work they're asking you to do involves. They get it.

The worst managers I've had and THE worst manager I've heard about from colleagues have all been lifelong managers. No real understanding of the scope and complexity of the things they're asking you to do, nor the wider environment they're asking you to do it within.

I mean, as a lifelong engineer, I'm baffled as to how the #1 lesson in management school isn't "understand the work that the people you're managing do."

Jonman wrote:

I mean, as a lifelong engineer, I'm baffled as to how the #1 lesson in management school isn't "understand the work that the people you're managing do."

It is way easier to sell people on the notion that the key to good management is an Oprah quote and a paintball game than a exhaustive examination of overlapping dependencies, abstractions (muddled or not), evolving tool chains, and paradoxes in spec reqs.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

... is an Oprah quote and a paintball game than ...

The stories I could tell about a manager I once had. I'll stick with the one triggered by your phrase above.

Our manager's manager, we'll call him Lyle because that was the asshat's name, was the worst. His eventual firing was because of sexual misconduct with a direct report, although that's not what the documentation says. I was in the know on that situation and was interviewed by HR in the investigation, so I know the truth why the slimeball was fired.

Anyway, he decides to do a team building exercise with the devs. This is after all his previous ones have failed. We're going to play Laser Tag! Fun? No, not really. We ( about 9 devs and he ) head to the LTag place, suit up, and play for an hour or so. It's not real fun because this just isn't a LTag group. Plus, our guns weren't working well - it was near impossible to hit anyone.

Well, turns out the problem was only for the team I was on, which was not the team fearless loser Lyle was on. After the LTagging was all over, he announces to everyone, laughing, that he asked the LTag folks to make it where his team could only be hit in one place on the body, whereas the other team had normal hit spots.

Great team-building, eh? He was the kind of person that can't lose at anything. Hyper-competitive and could never admit when he was wrong. Perfect personality for a manager - not.

What a douche. Couldn't stand him from the first moment I met him. I had the day off when he was fired and was enjoying a day of drinking golfing. I got the page from my co-worker as we were stepping up to the tee box on 10. Best 9 holes of golf of my life.

-BEP

Jonman wrote:

Conversely, every ex-engineer manager I've ever had has been awesome, for the one simple reason that they have a nuanced understanding of what the work they're asking you to do involves. They get it.

The worst managers I've had and THE worst manager I've heard about from colleagues have all been lifelong managers. No real understanding of the scope and complexity of the things they're asking you to do, nor the wider environment they're asking you to do it within.

I mean, as a lifelong engineer, I'm baffled as to how the #1 lesson in management school isn't "understand the work that the people you're managing do."

I can't say if my experience is the rule or the exception or if your case is the rule or the exception. Both would just be confirmation bias. But I can say from my experience I have had 14 managers in the past 14 years and worked in parallel with dozens more and the only one who actually knew how to manage had an MBA, and he got fired because he protected his employees against a hostile co-worker that was best friends with his boss (who was an ex-engineer).

Jonman wrote:

I mean, as a lifelong engineer, I'm baffled as to how the #1 lesson in management school isn't "understand the work that the people you're managing do."

Hard to structure a $250,000 MBA program around that

Iridium884 wrote:
Jonman wrote:

I mean, as a lifelong engineer, I'm baffled as to how the #1 lesson in management school isn't "understand the work that the people you're managing do."

Hard to structure a $250,000 MBA program around that

I think it is. It's just hard work, so lazy managers ignore it. Lean Six Sigma, CMMI, and all that buzzword stuff is all about a deep understanding of the work and the worker, but that's hard work. Good managers are willing to put in that work. Good executives require it. Unfortunately, many executives and managers aren't that good.

kaostheory wrote:
Iridium884 wrote:
Jonman wrote:

I mean, as a lifelong engineer, I'm baffled as to how the #1 lesson in management school isn't "understand the work that the people you're managing do."

Hard to structure a $250,000 MBA program around that

I think it is. It's just hard work, so lazy managers ignore it. Lean Six Sigma, CMMI, and all that buzzword stuff is all about a deep understanding of the work and the worker, but that's hard work. Good managers are willing to put in that work. Good executives require it. Unfortunately, many executives and managers aren't that good.

My wife is an executive, formerly a project manager. I think she's one of the good ones that tries to understand the work. And fortunately she's usually not in charge of tech teams, so the amount she needs to know isn't as high as other managers.

That said I can vouch for one underrated aspect of this problem. She never has time to do any training. In an ideal world they would hire enough staff that managers could take time off to get requisite training. Either training in the technical aspects of the people they manager or some general training that isn't an MBA.

As it stands most really good companies would help her get an MBA, but that would mostly be for the paper.