So, there is your manager, your supervisor, your boss, the one higher than you in hierarchy. How was (s)he chosen? And by whom? Picking the right person for the right position is not an easy task. And there is no guarantee that the right person was picked.
Does (s)he have the skills?
When a person is assigned to a higher position, and part of their job is more than writing code anymore, but they are in charge of managing people as of that moment, we have to make sure, that person fits the role, and not the opposite.
Is there a methodoly (or methodologies) for that? Yes they exist! If you have a decent conversation with a psychiatrist, they will reference some. I will just mention the Holland codes, that he developed in the 1970s!
No methodologies will be analyzed in this article, but I want to point out that if the companies really wanted to pick the right person for the right job (as possible as it can be of course), the tools are out there.
When the role fits the person
Any role comes with a set of standards. You would not trust someone, who is not a doctor, to operate on you, or someone to design your house, who is not an architect. Then how a team leader is picked in software projects?
Besides the technical (hard) skills, any leading role is embodied with a subset of soft skills. Unfortunately many managers, team leaders, people in charge, do not carry these qualities. They were picked for the wrong reasons, and that will probably lead to failed software projects. But any failed software projects apart, its the team members that will be disappointed, feeling alienated, and probably quitting their jobs.
Common reasons, for picking the wrong person, are lack of meritocracy, cliques, extensive flattery to the superiors, lies, undermining other possible candidates for the same position. I believe that is quite clear to everybody, this culture leads to a toxicity that disallows anyone to have strong motives keep working for that specific company.
When the roles fits the person, we probably have, some of, the following behaviors:
- Lack of communication skills. They don’t adapt their communication style, but rather they have a common pattern for anyone and everything. And most of this times this pattern is fueled by a commander like behavior.
- They are ungrateful. They don’t respect the team members, but rather they face them as minions that must deliver results.
- They don’t negotiate, but they are absolute.
- Lack of leadership skills. They don’t inspire.
- Lack of transparency. They keep the (full) truth away from the team.
- Lack of passion. Maybe obsessed by power, but no passion for their work and role.
- Lack of innovative thinking and vision.
- Unaware of the domain.
Why the wrong persons are picked?
Well, this is topic long enough of book volumes, not a blog article. But if I had to pick one reason, and only one, that would be the fear of change. Changing a company’s culture through the visions and innovation of the right people in the right positions, is a painful process, and no one wants that. The main reason is that change is a consuming and risky process. It costs money, it takes time and there is no guarantee that will succeed.
I am sure that all of us have heard the words sustainability, balance, (follow the) processes, but most(?) of the times this should be interpreted as “it works, don’t touch it“. Please never forget, that software development is not mainly about the product and the source code, but it’s about the people who write the code and build the product.
If those people are not happy, are not satisfied, working under stressful and toxic conditions, the code, at least, is gonna be bad. Even if the product is successful, the team will never be stable, cause the team members will go away as soon as they have the chance.
When the wrong person is assigned to the wrong role, the results are catastrophic. And they follow a domino effect pattern. No matter if the management tries to minimize the emotional contamination, the team will finally stand negatively to the company, to the project and to each other.