Friday, January 27, 2006

Surviving the bad boss

Everybody has experienced the bad boss once or twice in their life.

My bad boss was on one of my early programming jobs right out of college. She was the classic incompetent manager with a side of egocentric thrown in. I'd get done writing a program or report and verified it worked the way it was supposed to. I would then put the program into production and let the users verify the report worked exactly as expected.

Unbeknown to me, my boss would "fix" my code in the middle of the night and put it into production without even testing it. Of course, I got a call in the morning saying my code dumped core or broke the morning build. I couldn't understand it. That's when I started learning about diff, checksum, and about Sun auditing. I told another manager what I found and sure enough, this wasn't the first time.

I dealt with it mostly with CYA until I could get out.

8 comments:

Robert Vollman said...

"the overgrown technologist who gets rewarded for brilliant technical work by being promoted to a position for which he's not qualified. Nearly anyone who has worked in IT is familiar with this all-too-common scenario of a technologically brilliant boss with no management skills."

I had that guy!

Steve Prior said...

"the old fart" - the manager who maybe once had a clue, but had long since forgotten anything technical and was now trying to manage technical people. Once he took a (irrelevant) technical class to convince everyone he still had a clue. If there was a problem that needed to be resolved people would do anything possible to keep him out of it because once he did he would get in the way and complicate things. He was also known for his lies to his people - I remember at least one lie that didn't even survive undiscovered for the three door trip back to my office. When I left that department there were two people who said they couldn't attend my going away party, but changed their minds and came when they found out that their former manager was out of town.

Ram said...

So many non-technical managers with great interpersonal and communication skills claim that technical people do not know how to interact with other team members and can end up fighting with other memebers. That seems to be their excuse to stay in power.

I have seen hardcore technical people manage things and exhibit pretty much most of the characteristics mentioned here: http://www.computerworld.com/careertopics/careers/story/0,10801,107901,00.html

I have learnt one thing: A good balance is necessary, but it might be a formidable task in the ever changing world of technology.

Carlos said...

'"the old fart" - the manager who maybe once had a clue, but had long since forgotten anything technical and was now trying to manage technical people. Once he took a (irrelevant) technical class to convince everyone he still had a clue. If there was a problem that needed to be resolved people would do anything possible to keep him out of it because once he did he would get in the way and complicate things. He was also known for his lies to his people - I remember at least one lie that didn't even survive undiscovered for the three door trip back to my office.'

Steve:

Do you know if this "old fart" moved on to Spain? Maybe I'm working for him right now! ;-))

Cheers.

Carlos.

OracleDoc said...

See, this is the exact reason why I refuse to go into management.
There's no reason for it, do you make more money by going into management? No! You make the same if not more. Does getting into management do anything for your career? No! If anything it hurts you, it takes you out of the loop. You start having to spend more time keeping up technically just to stay in the loop.

Tell me I'm wrong Jeff.

Jeff Hunter said...

Well, I think it depends.

I used to manage a group of about 10 developers in a previous lifetime. I didn't like it because I was taken out of the details of the technology and ended up pushing more paper than writing code. But there's definitely more money in management. Depending on what you think it "better", more money might be "better".

On the other hand, that was the company environment. Management was somewhat hands off and concentrated on managing projects and business expections, not leading developers. In some companies, the management is technically savvay and very involved.

Personally, I don't want to manage more than a handfull of people. I want to stay technical because computers don't have to leave early or sleep late. But, as I've been told before, there's only so much you can make as a DBA.

OracleDoc said...

And, there's only so much you can make as a manager.

Jeff, if you're a senior DBA and you're not making six figures it's your own fault.

Let's see. A 100k or better a year as a DBA only responsible for yourself and the database, Vs (Maybe) 100k a year or better babysitting people and getting your butt chewed when deadlines aren't met and endless meetings.

Sorry bro, I much rather have the money and less responsibility. As long as I keep myself up todate on the Technology, I'm marketable. *cha ching*

Anonymous said...

Hasn't everyone worked for the uber technical genius promoted to manager? Arrrg! No eye contact, no people skills, only communicates by email, speaks in TLA's, thinks leadership is knowing everything about the operating system, and management means keeping the SCM system working well. Usually mumbles or says 'uhm' nine times a sentence during team presentations. Complains there too many non-technical people in management. Hates doing budgets... Thinks figuring out a schedule is stupid so he guesses. My worst boss was this person... Great techically, but I always wondered what idiot made this person a manager.