How to work with developers As a Freelancer I am able to work with different companies and see the craziest things, from scream matches to firing developers for no reason at all. Some people have no clue how to work with developers.

Have a clear plan from the start

You can think of developing software as someone building a house. You study the requirements, create a plan and build it. Do you constantly ask for ‘small adjustments’ once they started building? No. The same should be true for developing software. Your ‘small adjustment’ can have an enormous impact on my database and stall the progress of the project. Make sure that the requirements are done before you submit them.

Don’t involve us in office politics

You are the manager, you should take the heat. We make mistakes and will take responsibility for them but it is not possible to work if we have to deal with office politics. Don’t distract us from completing the project.

Explain why it needs to happen

This is linked to the previous point. While we don’t want to be involved in useless discussions, we like to know why things need to happen. Knowing that there is a clear goal for our project motivates us.

Ask us for input

Especially if a technical decision needs to be made. Are we going to host on AWS or somewhere else? Guess who has a strong opinion about that? Don’t just listen to the sales guy but ask the people that actually need to get the job done.

Deliver the cold hard truth immediately

Certain manager just keep talking without getting to the point. Most developers have a good BS detector and will see through your monologue. Just tell us what the problem is and we will try to solve it. Cut to the chase.

Don’t interrupt us

We don’t like small talk. Especially not while we are trying to solve a problem. You can think of it as solving an enormous puzzle. If you disturb us, we have to start all over again because it takes a lot of concentration to know how to solve these problems. Let us code in peace.

Stand-up meetings are fine. We like feedback on our work but don’t make us sit in meetings that take more time. It distracts us from the project and makes us dread coming to work. You should make the presentations and monitor the GANTT chart.

We like our free time (no stupid deadlines)

We don’t mind to work more hours from time to time but not all the time. A good manager knows how to prioritize. If everything is important, nothing is. Don’t disturb us with stupid requests if you know that we are out of office or on a Friday evening.

Create a decent working environment

I have seen developers work in smelly offices, hot offices, loud offices and even dirty offices. Seriously? It does not take that much effort to create a decent environment. Do you really think that you company is going to profit if you don’t buy that extra monitor a developer wants? Some managers are puzzled when their developers leave and how to keep them while just buying them a decent chair might have done the trick.

Promote me + bonus time

It should be clear how I can make promotion. There are other options for me out there so don’t wait too long. Giving a bonus from time to time is also appreciated. The best gift you can give me is to let me sign up for developer conferences and attend courses. Developers like to learn and improve their skills. They need to do this because the technology is evolving.

This is a sample of the situations I have experienced so far. There are a ton of great books out there: Mythical man month and Peopleware are my favorites.

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