My Manager Can’t Code

March 23, 2011

Chapter 8 – Open Teams

It is often the case that the best technical managers are also programmers, but not always. If your manager isn’t technical it can still work well. One of my favorite managers never wrote a single line of code for our team.

Instead of writing code he tested and designed the product. He was our first user. He tried every new feature and gave useful feedback. He tested the product and wrote a lot of good bugs.

Your manager can be a very useful team member without coding. Tell them you think so. Make it clear that they can help and you want them to. Invite them by showing what you are working on and getting their feedback. Make it clear you’re looking for their opinion, not their approval. Invite your manager to all design meetings and encourage them to speak up.

It may sound funny, but some managers are a little scared of their team. This is especially true of non-technical managers. They are surrounded by a group of people with skills they don’t have. Make it clear they don’t need to program to be a very productive member of the team.

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