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Managing "Veteran" Developers

By OracleKid ·
I'm hoping that some of the experienced development managers out there might be able to offer some advice. As a fairly young and fairly new dev manager, I find it difficult at times to manage one of our "veteran" developers. This developer is veryintelligent and has many years of experience (many more than myself) but tends to work in a vacuum and can over-engineer solutions. I appreciate the experience and effort that is brought to the table by this developer, but results (i.e. completed projects) are what matter to my management. For those of you who might have been in a similar situation before, would you have any suggestions on how I can "bring in the reigns" (to improve the quality and the perceived productivity of this developer)?

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Sounds Very Familiar

by A1Nut In reply to Managing "Veteran" Develo ...

Managing this type of expert can be a real challenge. Their technical knowledge is critical to our organization but they tend to go off the deep end at times, researching and trying out new technologies in the middle of a project, gold-plating everyproject to incorporate all the bells and whistles, adding scope creep and not getting the project done on time because of this. They don't understand, and don't want to understand, the timeline and budgetary issues of the projects.
Here is what Ihave done that seems to help:
1. Make sure to have a project timeline with estimated hours and due dates of each work package clearly defined. Let them know that the customer perceives success by timeline and budget more than including all the bells and whistles. They just want something to use to get their job done.
3. Send the expert to some team building and or project management classes. Or at least give them some required reading.
4. Talk to the developer often to find out what isgoing on. Request diagrams and question choices they make. Require weekly status.
5. Have the expert present/demo new technologies, be the "go to" person for the whole staff. Involve him/her in meetings where technical decisions are made. Whats/he is probably looking for is recognition.
6. Sometimes the expert can have a good rap but not really know the details of what they are doing. They need time to figure it out. Include it in planning the project.

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Heart To Heart

by Walt Disney Imagineer - DIG In reply to Sounds Very Familiar

Have you tried a "heart to heart"? I have found that an old fashioned "I respect you and all that you bring to our company, but you understand that the people above me expect 'this' or 'that'--How can we better work with each other, I really appreciate your helping us all succeed here...?? Bring the person out to a nice 'no rush' one on one lunch to let them know their value and also to perhaps get a better understanding of what is making this person "tick".. That's my 2 pennies.. From experience, this has been a great and enlightening approach for me in these situations.

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What's the real problem here?

by Celia Redmore In reply to Managing "Veteran" Develo ...

You have a knowledgable developer who doesn't see the bigger picture and tends to obsess on detail. That has nothing to do with being a "veteran" and everything to do with being a certain personality type.

What would you do if you met this in a 25-year old? Pair him up with someone who has wider vision but less knowledge? Chop the tasks up into smaller pieces so he couldn't go "dark" on you? Require a more detailed time-sheet than from a more pragmatic type?

By the way, you might want to keep an idea on his long term results versus those of other developers. Does his work tend to cause problems in later releases because he "over-engineers" his work? Or does his code trudge reliably on after you've had to throw extra resources at the work done by fast-and-furious developers to the fix problems they caused?

Whatever you find out, share it with your "intelligent" developer. Use facts, not prejudices based on his "veteran" status.

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