Developer Aspirations

YAPB - Yet Another Programming Blog



January 2010


by Colin Miller, on managers, work

I am very thankful for my current manager. I've thought about it for a while recently due to managers often having such an effect on the lives of those who work for them. I have only worked for 2 good managers, and I wanted to explain why I thought they were good and what separates a 'good' manager from a 'bad' manager.

Managers I feel are a necessary evil that have been thrust upon us by the bureaucracy gods who, like the gods of old, are both terrible and powerful. Also like you would find in the olden times there are beings of both light and dark in the realm of managers. Some managers rule through fear and require sacrifices to be made in their honor. Others are more benevolent, helping their subordinates through the natural disasters that the bureaucracy gods would thrust upon them. Working for a benevolent one is one of the greater benefits to some job positions.

A good manager will help a subordinate. They will listen and remove higher level management obstacles. When talking to your manager, if they ask the question "What can I do to make your job easier?" or "What can I do to help you?", then you might indeed have a good manager. Good ones will often push your ideas through upper management, and sit in meetings to help you do your job so you don't have to sit in those meetings, wasting your productive time.

A bad manager is quite the opposite. A bad manager will request of their subordinates to fill out forms detailing how they spend their time so that the manager can more easily report to his/her managers. A bad manager will thrust additional work on those they lead, not to make their subordinates lives easier, but to make the managers life easier. A bad manager will often not listen when a subordinate brings up an idea or has a concern, but will instead thrust their own ideas down the throat of those who work for them. A bad manager should never be given a cookie.

If you manage people, you have a responsibility. You should not be in it for glory and the people you are trying to please should not be your manager(s), but instead those who you manage. I'm not saying you should let them slack off or anything like that, but you should be making their job easier and make their work more effective. It might be difficult for you and you might be placed in a position where people give you shit for it, but you should take that shit and not pass it down onto those who work for you but instead shield them from that bureaucratic BS. In the end your team will be more effective and efficient. They will succeed where other teams will fail. By making them look good, you will look good in return.

I am lucky to have a manager that does that. I was lucky to have one in another job once as well. If you find a manager that fits this criteria, promote them to their bosses as much as you can, because you don't want to lose that shield you're getting. If you're a manager who does what I've listed on the good side, keep going, you rock. If you find yourself doing stuff I've listed on the bad side. No cookie.

comments powered by Disqus