I’ll be a coder ’til the day I die!

by Noc Team on November 24, 2010

“Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’ll be a coder ’til the day I die!”

The reason why this coder was sitting in for an interview was because; he had recently left his previous handsomely paid job of a development manager for being a coder. This may be the story of many developers, coders who join teams in order to become managers. But at another point of time, they realize that their learning in terms of creating has completely ceased. That is when employees turn bitter and often exhibit resentment for the company and especially for their work.

The last time I came across a bitter coder or rather a bitter manager was about two days back and he said,

“I confess, I wanted to be a manager. But then after a year of the same routine of managing people things changed. I wanted to create again, code again, instead of managing…and my job, I hated it.”

Every coder needs to figure out which type of coder he is. Are you interested more towards the poetical coding or are you interested in being the manager at the helm with big fat salary.  It has been critically analyzed that in the programming world there are two types of developers.

a)      Those who aim to become managers and

b)      Those who aim to create code.

How Coders Become Managers:

It is quite true that only those coders are promoted who demonstrate excellent coding skills. When promoted, they often give in, in order to make their boss happy; they fall for fat salary and a bigger role in a team. There are obviously more development positions than managerial ones. Developers excel at this point because they are technically more advanced, viable and skilled. They are chosen to become managers, because they are easy to get along with. They are good listeners and to them management acts as a challenge for them.

Many coders work hard to become managers, but when they do reach that point they realize that this was not what they wanted to do. As the time passes by, bitterness and resentment takes control. Because they fail to realize this earlier that there is no form of creating involved, it is all managing.

Advice:

Always keep your best coders as coders. Because if your coder wants to code, and you want him to manage teams, then there will be a time when you will see him rush out of the door, as if there was a sale at Bata at 75% off.  Promote developers who demonstrate management skills instead of top notch development skills. They may be hard to find, but top notch developers are even harder to find.

Why Coders Become Managers:

“I was on fire to be a manager when the opportunity came up. It came forward with a fat salary, a new position and a lot of respect. I accepted it gratefully and eagerly. I was provided a team of developers with myself managing them. Being the in charge did bring a new experience, but at the same time, I still wanted to code and create.”

There are many developers who wish to run small teams and at the same time want to create as well. They realize that managing people requires creativity but it does not allow you to create.

Advice:

The best developer should have all the skills. Even if you don’t want to be a manager you should be that person who can play an excellent role on the team. Because this will not only help you built a better career, but will help you in finalizing which position suits you best. Also, by working with other developers you will be able to learn and analyze how others work and create.  Many developers are promoted from writing software to leading projects and managing other developers. That is how you learn to analyze from a manager’s perspective that what makes a good developer best.

When Coders Become Manager

“Burned out on managing, yes I was.

I had a session with my boss, in which a lot was being inserted in my head where I was supposed to go back to my team and manage again. Yes, going back to the team was fine, but managing again was frustrating. Because I wanted to write code again.”

“Learning ceased. That was the main reason why I left my previous job and joined another company where they had a place for me as a coder”.

As I mentioned earlier, bitterness and resentment is followed by resignation in most cases.

Solution

Why developers give in for managerial positions

  • Desire for a bigger role
  • Desire to please their Boss
  • Desire to acquire a big fat salary
  • Circumstances

The solution here comes in, by the name of ‘Technical Directors’.

This position is on the same level as that of a manager in terms of power or seniority as their own management counterparts. The only difference lies that they are not reported by anyone and are independent in the company. They have their own work where they can create and at the same time manage their own projects and their own work.

So if you are being promoted and are afraid of losing your coding skills, then consult with your boss about it. He might facilitate you in this respect. You might end up being a ‘Technical Director’. Because if coding makes you happy, and you also wish to be promoted, then you need to find a solution yourself instead of running away every time a managerial position opens up.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ayesha November 24, 2010 at 5:53 AM

Really good article… But I guess, our generation believes in having experience themselves first! Like, even after reading this article, althogh I agree with the contents, but still I want to become a manager first, so to enjoy the Big Fat salary for some months!!!

Naeem Akram Malik November 24, 2010 at 6:47 AM

But there are places where managers are also helping coders… And in case of SCRUM agile methodology, a SCRUM master is doing both team management, co-ordination with higher ups, and some amount of coding as well.

Shakeel Tariq November 24, 2010 at 7:37 AM

Agree with Naeem, I’ve been doing this for almost half a decade now, and its an enjoyable experience.. but I somewhat agree to the article as well.. sometimes management gets annoyingly cumbersome.

Naveed ur Rehman November 24, 2010 at 7:48 AM

I have been doing programing when I was 12. I have around 13 years of coding experience. Coding is the real challenge, management is what you learn by experience. I am a coder, I code and I will be a code till the day I die ;) hehe

Umair November 24, 2010 at 8:22 PM

I would beg to differ with Naeem,

coders and managers are completely two realms. being half way through is tough .. its hard on you and if your not someone who would manage properly their time on co-ordinations and been Creative greedy and taking work in your own hand.. you might just end up loosing the teams trust and their support
not that its impossible I’ve been there 3 years straight. what I’m saying is that its risky .. very very risky .. you put a good coder in a managerial position you loose a good coder or at the very least get an over worked tired coder with a divided attention .

YOU ARE AN ASSET
=================

i strictly believe and promote the work philosophy of putting people in a place within their comfort zone where there abilities shine the most. and their shininess(sig) :P must equally reflect in their salary package regardless of their position. you buy talent not Titles or a position in a company when you hire an employee.
they are your assets and must be treated as such.

KILLING THE NEED TO EXCEED
==========================
a good hardworking amazing employee that creates magic with his keyboard. deserves what he works for. and a good manager does as well Its more about killing their desire to be called a manager and handing out authority, promotions, bonuses based on pure performance and ability where it fits the best and curbing that Socially pressured need to be called a manager after you have worked 5 years in a company.

The Developer world is getting a new makeover :) things are changing the methods need to change in this industry as well

ali sahil November 25, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Good Article,
but its better to become a coder before expecting fat salary, and manager state, its good be a good coder first before becoming manager because if u have not good command and knowledge of coding then how u lead a team

ahsan January 6, 2011 at 12:37 AM

first of all i hate the term coder, it should be programmer or software engineer because mostly a programmer is doing lot of stuff beside coding

according to the rule that a manager should be non technical person, but i believe that one should also have experience in related field, and should work closer to the team as well as management.

Malik Rizwan January 6, 2011 at 3:37 AM

Would you mind to better call it Programmer/Developer/Software Engineer. Coder is someone who can just write a piece of code with NO or VERY LITTLE analytical skills.

I worked as development manager in pakistan where i had to manage team and client communication, but i still managed to write the core libs also so i keep myself in touch with technologies. It was very hard for me to manage though. I had literally spent more than 36 hours without sleeping many weeks but those sleepless nights are helping me now.. I left that job but client and my employer still wanted me to work with them online on same salary for 4 hours daily because I know all core libs and ins & outs of all systems.

Also, it mainly depends on how you present than how you develop.

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