Managing Techies by a Non-Techie
I have been working in Nascenia for more than a year in an HR role. During this time, I had hundreds of meetings, listened to many disgruntled employees, oversaw hundreds of hiring and saw many leaving the organization, too. I always found and still finding managing techies by non-techies, not an easy job. Good thing is that experience, mentoring from supervisor and a few tips like the ones below go a long way to assuage it.
You are not a roadblock. Managing developers is a challenging task. If you are a non-technical person, most developers will see you as a roadblock and doubt if your actions are in their best interest. You should try to befriend them and show empathy to change the perception.
Articulate processes. Establish managerial processes in the workplace to ensure developers get their work done. Such processes make sure developers are maintaining office time, following protocols, communicating with clients and with the team through the right channels. You also have systems in place to get regular feedback from developers and address those quickly. All of these are there to ensure work is progressing smoothly in the right direction and developers are happy. Most importantly, it ensures that the clients are happy. This is a business after all.
Clarify requirements. The most important goal to work with developers is clearly explaining managerial processes to them. Understand it yourself first and explain to them why a certain process is necessary. This will gain you their respect. You will find some developers requiring strong motivation and encouragement to complete their tasks. Developers are not very good at managing themselves, they need a process but are generally unwilling to adopt a new one.
Accountability works! The good organization holds each individual accountable for his/her action. If you communicate clearly, developers will feel the need to complete a certain task, not because management told them to do so, but because it’s necessary for the betterment of the workplace. However, they need to know what is expected of them before can be held accountable for anything.
Poke them for help. Listen to the employees. Rely on the senior developers for assistance. Be persistent and keep pushing people to complete their tasks.
At the end of the day, if you are sincere and show genuine empathy, they will appreciate what you do.
Contributor: Nusrat Jahan, HR Executive, Nascenia