Developers vs. Managers: Five Tough Conversations: Page 2

Software developers and their managers sometimes find themselves in adversarial roles.
Posted February 25, 2013

Eric Spiegel

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3. Gadget or Necessity?

Today, more than ever, there is a plethora of hardware and software claiming to boost software development productivity.  And it doesn’t have to be something as complex as the latest code generation tool or automated unit tester. It could be as simple as requesting a second monitor. 

I pitched an article about just that – the importance of a second monitor – and my editor balked at first. 

I mean how boring, right? 

But it turned out to be one of my most viewed articles. This is because developers are passionate about what they need to meet their ever-increasing heavy workload demands. 

You wouldn’t just ask for another monitor because your cube looks cooler with two big honking displays. But you would ask for a second monitor to increase your productivity by backing it up with studies that prove it

No matter what gadget you are requesting, have the facts to back up your reasoning and, if possible, include a return on investment analysis to demonstrate how quickly the purchase will result in a payback in money or productivity.

4. Conference or Boondoggle?

I once had one of my developers ask for the company to pay for him to attend a conference on a cruise ship.  I think it was called Java Jams Geek Cruise. 

Imagine that! 

My first reaction was that this must be a joke.  I actually laughed.  When he stood his ground just staring at me, I realized he was serious. 

All I could think of was how my manager would ridicule me for approving an all-expenses paid cruise.

Luckily for him, this developer had come prepared. He presented me with an itinerary of seminars relative to the work we were doing and showed that this conference was comparable to other conferences team members had attended in the past. In addition, he agreed to deliver a brown bag presentation for knowledge transfer back to our team.

I approved. 


Because I knew I could defend the decision. The key to a conference request is to have a plan on how you will maximize your conference experience and bring back what you learn to your teammates.

5. So Long, Farewell

Almost everyone resigns at some point in their career.  But many developers don’t put much thought into it.  They figure they’ll go in, say “I’m out of here” and be on to greener software development pastures. 

But don’t underestimate the importance of preparing for this potentially difficult conversation. It’s important to approach your resignation in the most professional manner because you don’t want to burn bridges. You may need a reference from your manager or you may end up working for her again someday.

The truth is, resigning can end up being more stressful than asking for a pay increase. Of course, some managers just assume you are indirectly asking for a salary bump by resigning and will come back with a counter offer. 

Be prepared for the counter offer!!! 

Know going in if there is any chance of negotiation or if there is nothing that can be offered to keep you from leaving. If you have thought your decision through, it will make the farewell discussion so much easier – and less stressful.

As for me, I was grudgingly granted my vacation request, but only after I agreed to work late to meet the new deadline. 

If you prepare a case that takes into consideration all the impacts of your request, you’ll avoid a scornful response which could have the worst kind of impact – a negative impact on your future. 

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Tags: programmers, developers

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