Quite possibly the best article I have ever read on managing, or dealing with, geeks.
Few people notice this, but for IT groups respect is the currency of the realm. IT pros do not squander this currency. Those whom they do not believe are worthy of their respect might instead be treated to professional courtesy, a friendly demeanor or the acceptance of authority. Gaining respect is not a matter of being the boss and has nothing to do with being likeable or sociable; whether you talk, eat or smell right; or any measure that isn’t directly related to the work. The amount of respect an IT pro pays someone is a measure of how tolerable that person is when it comes to getting things done, including the elegance and practicality of his solutions and suggestions. IT pros always and without fail, quietly self-organize around those who make the work easier, while shunning those who make the work harder, independent of the organizational chart.
This idea of respect as the fundamental underpinning of how a team works was something of an eye-opener for me although in hindsight, I shoulda realized it a looong time ago
I’ve often wondered why one of the most successful development teams I ever worked on was composed of people whose technical skills I would’ve rated as generally below average, with only the team leader being around average. But they always managed to deliver what they were supposed to, on time and to spec, and it was largely due to how well they worked as a team. They were genuinely decent people, with a healthy respect for each other, and that’s how they were able to function so well together. And it’s entirely possible that being not so technically advanced worked in their favour, since being really good at something often makes people a little less understanding and patient with others who are not so good…
The same idea applies outside of IT; as a long-time musician, the best bands I’ve worked in have been comprised of people with a respect for each other’s playing, rather than those intent on showing to the world how awesomely good they are
Foundational (bottom-up) respect is not only the largest single determining factor in the success of an IT team, but the most ignored. I believe you can predict success or failure of an IT group simply by assessing the amount of mutual respect within it.
Maybe (OK, obviously) I’m a bit slow, but what an amazing idea
IT pros complain primarily about logic, and primarily to people they respect. If you are dismissive of complaints, fail to recognize an illogical event or behave in deceptive ways, IT pros will likely stop complaining to you. You might mistake this as a behavioral improvement, when it’s actually a show of disrespect. It means you are no longer worth talking to, which leads to insubordination.
Flipping the so-called bozo bit
But the icing on the cake is this one:
Unlike in many industries, the fight in most IT groups is in how to get things done, not how to avoid work. IT pros will self-organize, disrupt and subvert in the name of accomplishing work. An over-structured, micro-managing, technically deficient runt, no matter how polished, who’s thrown into the mix for the sake of management will get a response from the professional IT group that’s similar to anyone’s response to a five-year-old tugging his pants leg.
Honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Mostly because it’s true