Companies invest billions every to train and hire good managers, but is there something important that they are forgetting?

When we think of good managers we think of managers who help the company to success. In order to do this there are several skills they must excel in no matter what kind of group they are managing.

These skills include things like:

–          Communication and people skills

They must be able to understand directions and goals given to them from senior management and implement these within their team.  Within the team they must also be able to manage conflicts as well as being able to motivate and lead them.

–          Business management skills

Business management skills include things like thinking and implementing good strategies. Managers must also be able to make the correct decisions when presented with several options. Finance is also extremely important. Mangers have to be able to budget, manage cash flow etc. All of these skills are on top of managing actual projects within their groups.


The dilemma

All of these skills along with some others are of course essential for people to be good managers. But there is one skill I feel is missing – experience within the field.

Many people, companies and reports argue that experience within the field is not necessary. This may be the case for some areas of work but I feel it is essential for management of large software development projects.

There are several reasons people may be against this idea.  These include:

  1. If a manager has been a software developer, he may want to get stuck into the projects. If this happens, other managerial tasks would be neglected due to lack of time and the business could suffer.
  2. It is important that managers set projects that support the company’s overall goals. If an individual has been a developer previously they may pick up on errors and waste time fixing these even if they make no difference to the company’s overall goals and objectives.
  3. Another strong argument is diversity. It has been proven that diversity of skills in a team can improve creativity, knowledge and productivity (Jehn & Bezrukova, 2004). Therefore a manager, who has no software development skills but other skills instead, would add to the diversity of a team and therefore increased productivity.
  4. Managers are there to provide the team with the resources required to get a job done – not do the job.


I understand that these are all valuable arguments; however from personal experience in a software development team through an internship, the managers who had no programming skills let alone software development skills were not respected in the work place.

When the respect for managers was missing, team harmony was disrupted. Members of the team would get frustrated explaining what they were doing to the managers and the managers not understanding them. Furthermore in teams where the managers had no development skills, the time taken to complete a project was often underestimated. Missing deadlines meant teams could look like they were being very unproductive.  I feel that a manager who had software development skills would be a better judge of the time. They would also appreciate the effort it takes to complete projects.

When a team does not work harmoniously and team members are not motivated or happy to work, the whole company can suffer. It is estimated that companies spend billions every year (Amabile & Kramer, 2012) due to lack of productivity as a result of unhappiness at the workplace.

I strongly believe that the benefits of having a motivated, happy team outweigh the benefits mentioned above when a manager has no experience in the field. If a manager has had previous experience in the field they will not only be respected more by their colleagues but it will lead to a better understanding of the team and this in turn will allow a manager to utilize his workforce more effectively.

I understand that not all programmers and software developers necessarily have the skills to be good managers but surely in the 18.5 million software developers around the world (Ranger, 2013) there are some that have the necessary skills?



Amabile, T. & Kramer, S., 2012. Employee Happiness Matters More Than You Think, s.l.: Bloomberg businessweek.

Jehn, K. A. & Bezrukova, K., 2004. A field study of group diversity, workgroup context, and performance. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 25(6), pp. 703-729.

Ranger, S., 2013. There are 18.5 million software developers in the world – but which country has the most?, s.l.: TechRepublic.