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Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation?

66 replies on 5 pages. Most recent reply: Jun 29, 2010 11:09 PM by robert young

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James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 1:05 PM
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> We should distinguish managers from Managers.

If you don't have authority to make decisions, you aren't really a manager; you are a supervisor despite your title.

> Is there any reason, then, to strive to enter the
> management ranks?

What's your solution? Wave a red flag and whine about being a victim? Do you not receive compensation to support the system you bemoan?

Bill Pyne

Posts: 165
Nickname: billpyne
Registered: Jan, 2007

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 1:37 PM
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An organization that sees software as a major strategic component of its business model can only be helped by having a technical career path for developers. At the least, retention should be better.

Any other organization should at least formally state where it expects a developer to go over time: developer->BA->PM->???, etc. This would allow a candidate for a developer position to determine whether or not the organization is a good fit.

To me, a more important question is whether or not a developer helps him/her self by having a formal career plan. Further, is it ever too early/late to have a plan?

Slava Imeshev

Posts: 114
Nickname: imeshev
Registered: Sep, 2004

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 2:31 PM
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> My father was/is an engineer (thermodynamics) and has been
> managing a department full of engineers for decades. He's
> always deeply involved with the work but he's "not afraid
> to hire people that are smarter" than himself.

It sounds like your father is a *great* manager. Would he do "career path development" to his folks?

Regards,

Slava Imeshev
http://www.cacheonix.com

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 3:29 PM
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> > We should distinguish managers from Managers.
>
> If you don't have authority to make decisions, you aren't
> really a manager; you are a supervisor despite your
> title.

Authority, as I described, can be circumscribed. You're still a M/manager. You may seek to become a Manager. The issues are why? and what's in it for you?

>
> > Is there any reason, then, to strive to enter the
> > management ranks?
>
> What's your solution? Wave a red flag and whine about
> being a victim? Do you not receive compensation to
> support the system you bemoan?

I made no brief for whining. On the contrary. Others may have. But the question in the thread's title relates to damage to an organization. To the extent that an organization institutionalizes (is that redundant?) The Peter Principle, there will be damage to the function of the organization's productive ability. If *that's* what is cared about (rather than Management nest feathering), then don't do that.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 3:36 PM
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> It sounds like your father is a *great* manager. Would he
> do "career path development" to his folks?

I'm going to assume you are sincere but I don't know about that. I could ask him. He doesn't talk to me about management stuff much. He'd rather talk about technical stuff. I'm having trouble recalling the context of when he said that. There's a micro-brewery a couple blocks from my parents which might have something to do with that.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 3:51 PM
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> Authority, as I described, can be circumscribed. You're
> still a M/manager. You may seek to become a Manager. The
> issues are why? and what's in it for you?

What's in it for me? Sanity, for one. A lot of people just shrug and do whatever fool thing they are told to do. I get angry when talent is squandered. Secondly, I've been laid off as a result of the ineptitude of my management. I have no illusion that keeping my head down and going along with asinine nonsense will keep me employed. I've decided that if I can't find a place I want to work, I'll have to create one.

> > > Is there any reason, then, to strive to enter the
> > > management ranks?
> >
> > What's your solution? Wave a red flag and whine about
> > being a victim? Do you not receive compensation to
> > support the system you bemoan?
>
> I made no brief for whining.

Sure seems like whining to me. You don't seem to offer any solutions.

> On the contrary. Others may
> have. But the question in the thread's title relates to
> damage to an organization. To the extent that an
> organization institutionalizes (is that redundant?) The
> Peter Principle, there will be damage to the function of
> the organization's productive ability. If *that's* what
> is cared about (rather than Management nest feathering),
> then don't do that.

I don't see that having a career path for developers will ensure that result. Having a path doesn't mean everyone will follow it to the point of mediocrity. And a career path doesn't need to have management roles in it. If you don't offer a way for people to advance their careers, there's a good chance someone else will.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 6:14 PM
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> Sure seems like whining to me. You don't seem to offer
> any solutions.
>

I wrote this on 31 May:

> > The real question: Why would anyone want to get
> promoted
> > out of software development?
>
> As a manager he/she would earn more?

This Keeping Up With the Joneses approach to life (the archetypal middle class treadmill), is what promotes group think; the willingness to bend to any directive to (hopefully) acquire more coin. Group think can further devolve to yet more evil expressions. I'll leave it to your understanding of history to know what some of those were.

If making more money is what one seeks, life insurance salesman is quite lucrative. Any sales job for that matter will finance a higher lifestyle than doing software development.

If the goal is to do the work that pleases you, the money isn't especially relevant, modulo spouses' desires for trinkets.

In any case, you assume that the manager class is more valuable than the productive classes. A dangerous assumption.


So: no whining, just do the work that floats your boat, and don't worry about the money. Well, if the spouse will let you. I believe that qualifies as a solution.

Slava Imeshev

Posts: 114
Nickname: imeshev
Registered: Sep, 2004

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 8:51 PM
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> > It sounds like your father is a *great* manager. Would
> he
> > do "career path development" to his folks?
>
> I'm going to assume you are sincere but I don't know about
> that.

Will an online affirmation do? :-)

> I could ask him.

Well, that would be nice. There aren't that many external sources of common sense. It seems you've got one.

I think a good manager wouldn't cause the described "feeling of extreme discomfort", at least, not intentionally. Here is the original question:

"The HR person making the presentation talked in an excited manner about the importance of career planning, indeed making it sound like a major personal disappointment as well as an organisational transgression if people didn't formally plan their career. It sounded a bit like one of those political Progress is good, surely you're not against Progress? speeches.

I was trying to work out why this all made me feel extremely uncomfortable, with nearly thirty years behind me and at least another twenty to go, I suppose I should regard myself as mid-career. Is there a stigma if I say no, I don't want to set career goals?"

If it did occur by accident, the natural reaction of a good manager would be fixing the damage as soon as possible. In that case it could be getting the team together to say "Guys, I screwed up, won't happen again". Apparently, it didn't, and is not going to. Hence, Andy's situation is doomed there.

To me, the only way Andy can fix it is to find a new place, where here can do his best as an engineer while his manager is making sure that there is nothing in Andy's way.

Regards,

Slava Imeshev
http://www.cacheonix.com

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 3, 2010 9:36 PM
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> Will an online affirmation do? :-)

Don't mind my paranoia. I was having a bad day which tends to affect the way I interpret things.

> > I could ask him.
>
> Well, that would be nice. There aren't that many external
> sources of common sense. It seems you've got one.

Well, I can't say for sure whether he's a great manager. I respect things that I know he does. For example, he doesn't use his reserved space near the front door and parks in the big lot with all the other employees.

> I think a good manager wouldn't cause the described
> "feeling of extreme discomfort", at least, not
> intentionally. Here is the original question:

Just note that it wasn't his direct manager that did this. It was a human resources representative. But I do think that it should be OK for people to stay where they are. I'm not sure it's a good idea but I don't buy into up-or-out management. I do think that the more experience you have the more mentoring you should be doing.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 4, 2010 10:15 AM
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> So: no whining, just do the work that floats your boat,
> and don't worry about the money. Well, if the spouse will
> let you. I believe that qualifies as a solution.

I get impression that you think the only reason someone would want to go into management is to make more money (not that I think there is something wrong with that.) If that's not what you are saying, then sorry for misinterpreting.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 4, 2010 11:56 AM
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> > So: no whining, just do the work that floats your
> boat,
> > and don't worry about the money. Well, if the spouse
> will
> > let you. I believe that qualifies as a solution.
>
> I get impression that you think the only reason someone
> would want to go into management is to make more money
> (not that I think there is something wrong with that.) If
> that's not what you are saying, then sorry for
> misinterpreting.

Correct. I was replying to a writer who suggested $$$ as the reason to ascend to a management chair. However, experience (mine) demonstrates that those who choose to be managers solely for the $$$ end being lousy at it. Which tends to be true for any occupation.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 4, 2010 12:33 PM
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> Correct. I was replying to a writer who suggested $$$ as
> the reason to ascend to a management chair. However,
> experience (mine) demonstrates that those who choose to be
> managers solely for the $$$ end being lousy at it. Which
> tends to be true for any occupation.

OK but I think the statement that managers can (generally) make more money than developers is a statement of fact, not of value. So when someone asks "why would *someone* move into management?" and the answer is "to make more money" it doesn't mean that the answerer is advocating that. I read it more as a hypothesis.

Krisztian Sinka

Posts: 30
Nickname: skrisz
Registered: Mar, 2009

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 4, 2010 3:27 PM
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> I was replying to a writer who suggested $$$ as
> the reason to ascend to a management chair. However,
> experience (mine) demonstrates that those who choose to be
> managers solely for the $$$ end being lousy at it. Which
> tends to be true for any occupation.

I intentionally made this point with the money thing. I have worked for a bigger company where engineer newcomers were really keen on applying for manager courses and management career path after some month of experience just after school.
As I totally had, and have, different attitude (prefer engineering or creative work over managing projects (I am trying to be as clear and not offensive now as possible)) this was the only idea I could thought for them.

I also did not answer the thread's original question:
Can cause damages?: yes and no.

NO: Planning activity can give opportunity for the person to express certain needs or aims.

YES: It is somehow strange to tell what I would like to reach in 2 years while the company do not knows what will be the work after 3 months.

YES: If the possibilities at the company is limited, or even there is only two way (engineer or M/anager) it could be embarrassing for the person:
- Should I "apply for" management now?
- What if I say no now, but after a year I would say yes?
- What if I say something that is currently not available at the company? Will they thing I would like to leave?

Slava Imeshev

Posts: 114
Nickname: imeshev
Registered: Sep, 2004

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 4, 2010 5:19 PM
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> > Will an online affirmation do? :-)
>
> Don't mind my paranoia. I was having a bad day which
> tends to affect the way I interpret things.

Actually, I have re-read my question and now I do see that it may sound sarcastic. My bad. I guess I type faster than I think.

Regards,

Slava Imeshev
http://www.cacheonix.com

Slava Imeshev

Posts: 114
Nickname: imeshev
Registered: Sep, 2004

Re: Do Career Plans for Developers Actually Damage an Organisation? Posted: Jun 4, 2010 5:25 PM
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James,

> > I think a good manager wouldn't cause the described
> > "feeling of extreme discomfort", at least, not
> > intentionally. Here is the original question:
>
> Just note that it wasn't his direct manager that did this.
> It was a human resources representative. But I do think
> that it should be OK for people to stay where they are.

Agreed. In fact, it should be one of the signs of a healthy organization. Otherwise, how one knows that he is not doing well? Though, from my experience, it's pretty rare.

Regards,

Slava Imeshev
http://www.cacheonix.com

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