As a Manager: What I value in developers

There are many traits a good developer has. Focus. Sense of Quality. Interest in what he does. Knowledge of programming languages and skills in software development. An opinion. Team player. Update see comments: Being creative and innovative. Propose ideas.

But the things I most value are professionalism and getting things done.

Those are similar to the one Fog Creek and Joel Spolsky find important. Joel on Software values:

First of all, the #1 cardinal criteria for getting hired at Fog Creek:
Smart, and
Gets Things Done.

Why professionalism? There is not enough sense of a profession on our industry. We do need more professionalism to be taken serious by others. By our customers. Noone would argue with an account about his practices, or with a surgeon about his. The only high-profile person caring about professionalism seems to be Uncle Bob. This can be felt in many of his arguments:

Look, TDD is not my religion, it is one of my disciplines. It’s like dual entry bookkeeping for accountants, or sterile procedure for surgeons. Professionals adopt such disciplines because they understand the theory behind them, and have directly experienced the benefits of using them.

Professionalism is about not doing things that are stupid. Not cutting corners. Have pride in your work and write clean code. Get the software development industry and your job to a level where surgeons and accountants have been for centuries.

Why gettings things done? In the end, what counts is money earned. Everything else is a proxy. If you want to get paid, your company needs to earn money. Honour deadlines. Getting things done means no gold plating. It means understanding the necessity for business to get features to their customers. Suppressing the urge to develop a framework out of everything, to develop frameworks first before you really know what is needed. Write frameworks when it helps you getting things done. To dive into large refactorings at the wrong time.

You need to strike a balance between both. Too much professionalism and your customers will be annoyed. As will be your boss and your colleagues. It means you will make professionalism and end in itself and forget about getting things done. Too big a focus on getting things done will make you cut corners. Write bad code. Being not professional.

Your company needs to support you with both – a environment for professionalism and letting you getting things done. Many companies don’t. Some focus too much on professionalism, some focus too much on getting things done. What if your environment doesn’t support you? Joel writes in another article about you getting things done:

A lot can be done to improve the project just by one person doing it. Don’t have a daily build server? Make one. Set your own machine up with a scheduled job to make builds at night and send out email results. Does it take too many steps to make the build? Write the makefile. Nobody does usability tests?

And most managers will value you highly when you get things done.

What about you, what do you value? I’d like to hear in the comments.

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