Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to handle Developers!

Here are a few tips if you get pushed to managing a team of code monkeys..err..developers.

1. Deadline is 8 hours away and they are whiling away time by reading Joel Sposky or watching a South Indian actor dancing in a superman costume.

Ignore this - they are just warming up.

2. After the above intellectual stimulation they go for coffee.

Again, be patient. They are refueling.

3. Call them for a meeting to explain how grave the situation is. Only 6 hours is left.

Stop stop. Don't call them for a meeting now, it will just drain the warm up and caffeine effect they are having now. They are about to enter their "zone" where things will start "flowing".

4. How to know what the status is?

Hmm..it is a difficult thing. If you send an IM or an email it will interrupt their flow which will make them very angry, or they might mistake you for micro managing things. Wait for one of the developers to go for a bathroom break and follow them there. Of course you should be of the same gender.

There you ask - hi hows it going you are aware of the deadline today right? If the specimen nonchalantly asks - "what deadline" - don't panic. He is just messing with you. In fact the developers are very conscious of not being fired / or not getting the next hike - they usually would have a mammoth credit card bill - because of a 3G iPhone, or a flight ticket to Ladakh..

So don't worry..patiently explain to him that the clients want this by EOD - so it will be great if we can deliver it. He will just say a hmm and will take his own sweet time to comb his hair, or gargle, or one of the thousand things he can do to frustrate you - so do not wait for him but move back to your seat. Things are going smooth - if there was any problem or the deadline cannot be met he would have told you - trust me on this.

5. You see a few developers packing their bags

Time to go ask your QA team if everything is fine. If you had not troubled the developers throughout the day there is a good chance the stuff is done well and your team has met the deadline. Now you can prepare for the telecon with the clients and draft the congratulatory email to the team.

Of course it is not this cut and dry. Use your judgement - you will get better at it as you go. Understanding the developers mindset is having half the battle won.

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