In a recent conversation, a friend told me he was grappling with an interesting problem. He had promoted a great developer within his organization into management to show his appreciation for his hard work over the past few years.
However, the senior developer, while highly skilled technically, did not have the right skills for leadership.
Generally speaking, the skill set required for a great coder is different than that of a team leader. Simply being great technically does not mean that your star developer can step into a position of management. He may have mastered the nuances of development and he might be a technical wizard, but that’s a far cry from assuming he will be able to keep a team together and motivate them to work towards a common goal.
Give Your Tech Talent Options
The assumption that the best developers must be promoted into management is misleading. If developers enjoy writing code and building products, why should we force them into leadership? We should give the best tech talent options. The key is to provide a pay increase so they are rewarded for their great work, but allow them to choose the track they are most comfortable with.
Offering choice is also great for your organization. A developer who has been coding for five years at the same company is critical to the organization, so finding the right path for them is key to increasing their job satisfaction, retention and productivity.
Find Natural Mentors
While all software developers cannot be great managers, a great tech manager should still be a talented coder. After all, in order for them to be successful, the team has to acknowledge their authority and respect them. If the manager is knowledgeable and comes across as an expert, then they will be reasonable in their expectations and can act as a mentor.
Randy Rayess is the co-founder of VenturePact, a marketplace that connects companies to prescreened software development firms; he previously worked in private equity at SilverLake Partners and in machine learning. You can reach out to him at @randyrayess or on LinkedIn.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.