Articles

Programmer Manager

The right man in a wrong job will screw the job.
The wrong man in a wrong job will screw his associates.
The right man in a right job will soon be fired by management.
The wrong man in a right job is always the manager.
Vasu Srinivasan

I am the youngest programmer in my project. When I joined this huge international project, I hadnt even completed my degree. People say me I am very talented. My project manager compliments me saying that I am such a person who could complete a whole project all by myself without needing any other developers. Not that my colleagues are not talented, they actually are oozing out of talent.

But today I am worried. Despite the talents we have in our project, we have been missing the deadlines. After all, thats what the clients look for. Can a project meet a deadline? Doesnt matter how the code looks, but does it work? Doesnt matter whether the code was written in a highly object oriented manner using all idioms and syntax of Java, or written in Visual Basic like a son writes letter to his folks. If the client is paying the money, I think he has all the rights to question.

Apart from the technical details being solved, there is a bigger confusion - read management - always looming around. Most of my managers are clueless. They only "manage" things, because they cant do anything useful, to rephrase the Dilbert's principle.

Amidst these confusions, our project once again missed the deadline. There were many technical problems, but I dont want to bore you with those details. The upper management got angry and fired the middle management, who unfortunately turned to be my boss. And I was unofficially given the rein to "manage" my team. Every one congratulated me and said I am the right person and the right choice. They said I would do miracles. Will I really? Now sire, I am a good programmer, at least according to my own standards, but I havent had the experience of "managing" people. Some of the programmers in my team are way senior to me. It would be uneasy to ask them a favor of less intelligent proportions. So I end up doing all the dirty work. Well, did I tell you thats why I am a manager?

Then came the twist. The higher management hired a middle manager to manage me. He is technically good guy, but screwed up while managing the sales details. Soon, my inexperience showed up. Howmuch ever I tried, we were missing deadlines again and again. An year passed yet no result. I was always under pressure assigning little jobs and taking care of little details, that I missed out whats happening in the technical world. Now nobody likes when we are missing deadlines, fair enough. The same people who called me the "you are the right choice baby" now complained "if you aint doin' it, then step out". They now complain that I was instructing my fellow experienced programmers for every line they coded. They now complain that my programming style is unimaginative. They now complain I dont have enough luck to make this project work. This in turn disturbed me mentally and affected my management work. Then suddenly I decided to quit being manager. If I aint made up of management stuff I aint goin' to be a manager. It took a lot of courage though. I am now back to writing ol' code, writing technical articles and all those fun stuff.

Epilog

When I was a young boy, people asked me "What do you want to become?". I told them I want to become a cricketer and play for my country. People told me "Sorry you cant be a good cricketer. You dont have the right talent. Why dont you study software and become a programmer?". And so I gave up my ambition to be a cricketer. I regret the decision now. If only I had played cricket for my country I would definitely have been a better batsman, bowler or even a good captain.

Signed: SRT
A never unpublished page from my non-existing diary.