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Managing devs

Amy Hudspith
CompSci Student, particularly interested in Cyber
・1 min read

Hello all 👋 I have just started as my college’s web editor and have recruited my web committee. I’ve had some experience managing staff before (at a tutoring centre), but these are closer to peers, and will be the first time I’ve managed devs.

If you could give me once piece of advice, what would it be?

(Edit to clarify: When I say it's my first time "managing devs" I mean that I have some experience managing people, but that was in a different industry and wasn't with the aim of creating a product. I myself am a dev who has only really worked independently or with friends)

Discussion (7)

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Ben Halpern

This isn't the most important thing, but one thing that comes to mind: Developers bend the truth to win arguments. I've always noticed this. Something they don't want to implement is usually "non-trivial" and something they do want to implement is "super simple". I don't mean devs are lying, they're just not usually coming from a place without bias.

I'm speaking as a dev. We're not trying to be deceiving, I just think this craft is so abstract, that it's really really easy to change an estimation based on mood, etc.

I don't think you need to question what other devs are doing, but if you don't have full context of the problem and somebody else has the greater technical insight, you can still ask questions and probe into why people feel a certain way.

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Ilia Mikhailov

It's usually the other way around. Devs want to build cool stuff and will always try to make a hen out of a feather if they can. Scope creep and premature optimization.

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Matt Seymour • Edited

Be clear and set / manage boundaries. Too many times have I seen devs go off on wild goose chases because the scope of work was not well defined.

Also, do not get dragged into the new shiny. There will always be a new way or new tool which (on the surface) will revolutionize. By all means, evaluate, but again sandbox and set boundaries.

Finally either be cautious of the loudest member of the team and be encouraging of the quietest. The loudest will try and push their agenda, the quietest probably had good ideas which will be drowned out by others.

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Kyla

This advice strongly resonates with me. Thinking of devs as people that happen to code rather than code-writing resources creates a safer environment for them to grow as well as fail. A developer's value is not derived from the code they write but more from what they're able to contribute given their life experiences.

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Jacob Colborn

My best piece of advice for managing anyone in any position is ensure you are constantly working on your communications skills. Make sure you are making enough time to both talks and listen to those you are managing. Having a clear line of free communication will make sure everything is running smoothly. I would recommend reaching out weekly to all of your team members individually (provided the team is not too large). Try not to make it a canned message, elaborate a bit more. This goes doubly for people you manage who you would have viewed as peers before, they may not be used to that dynamic.

I am sorry I don't really have anything specific related to developers, but hopefully, that will be helpful in some way.

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Erick Ruiz de Chavez • Edited

In my experience, as a dev and not as a manager, the best managers I have worked with are those who are not in the way (micromanaging) but instead help me do my work by removing blockers from my way, getting as much and as detailed requirements for every task, values my experience and my opinion while also keeping me focused on the "big picture", someone who cares about me not only as a team member as but also a person.

I recently started reading The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change and I cannot recommend it enough. ★★★★★

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