Ajarn Mark Caldwell Blog

Bringing Business Sense to the IT World…

How to Manage Technical Employees

In my current position as Software Engineering Manager I have been through a lot of ups and downs with staffing, ranging from laying-off everyone who was on my team as we went through the great economic downturn in 2007-2008, to numerous rounds of interviewing and hiring contractors, full-time employees, and converting some contractors to employee status.  I have not yet blogged much about my experiences, but I plan to do that more in the next few months.  But before I do that, let me point you to a great article that somebody else wrote on The Unspoken Truth About Managing Geeks that really hits the target.  If you are a non-technical person who manages technical employees, you definitely have to read that article.  And if you are a technical person who has been promoted into management, this article can really help you do your job and communicate up the line of command about your team.  When you move into management with all the new and different demands put on you, it is easy to forget how things work in the tech subculture, and to lose touch with your team.  This article will help you remember what’s going on behind the scenes and perhaps explain why people who used to get along great no longer are, or why things seem to have changed since your promotion.

I have to give credit to Andy Leonard (blog | twitter) for helping me find that article.  I have been reading his series of ramble-rants on managing tech teams, and the above article is linked in the first rant in the series, entitled Goodwill, Negative and Positive.  I have read a handful of his entries in this series and so far I pretty much agree with everything he has said, so of course I would encourage you to read through that series, too.