22 May 2007

IT Hell - a developer's reality

One encounters all sorts of characters at work.

Let's start with the bad management. Bad Management is that thing that speaks to you by halves yet advocates open communication. It's that body of near-psychopathic individuals who relish on knowledge they have over others and use this knowledge to manipulate people. What for you ask? Oh, it really depends what for. Let's see, as a development pawn for example, you may be used as a tool to make them look good, or as a scapegoat should something go wrong, or as a piece of leverage to obtain further favours from someone they see as worth sucking up to in this mad rat race that is their life.

If you are too brilliant for your own good, don't wait to be recognised. Bad management sees it as imperative that good employees are never recognised lest they become too arrogant and demand pay rises or heaven forbids, that they come to expect all sorts of things like respect. And by respect, I don't mean the respect that they strategically show by grovelling to you when they need something done, no after all, you are paid to work, are you not? No, I mean the respect that comes in evidence from management that does not screw you whenever it wants to or whenever it needs to gain points from clients. The respect that is evident from someone who apologises when they make a mistake that completely ruins your work or causes you to lose face in front of a client. Or simply, the minimum respect required to tell you the same thing they choose to tell those clients. That sort of respect. You know, not looking down at you, thinking "And Laura doesn't even know the last of it! If she only knew!"

Because in fact, I know. And it's pissing me off greatly.

Bad Management. It's that irreproachable body of self-professed do-goders who gladly use the authority that their role of 'manager' or 'director' imparts them, to assert that they are always right and that you are such a fool for doubting their good will. To be such a manager is to do absolutely nothing productive save for pretending that unknown to you, the lowly developer, management has thought of everything and that all is progressing as planned, that is, as per their omnipotent contingency plan. Oh, what, you have a problem? Don't worry, don't let it get to you!! Don't expect much support from this sort. Words fly out of their mouths for their own amusement. I suspect they like the sound of their own voices as they prance around next to your desk declaring how everything can be solved and that you really don't have to worry about anything... except for reading the client's mind, designing for a system that has only been half specified by the client, developing a system from scratch on your own, managing client expectations that have been rudely misled and making do with management incompetence.

I'm actually getting better at mind reading. It's the management incompetence that is a problem.

The imbecile client. This one throws tantrums. They know what they want but it's completely besides the point. For example, if you demand to know how a particular functionality should behave prior to designing it, they wouldn't have the faintest clue. Once you have raked your brain to design a system and given them this functionality on a silver platter, they insist that it is not exactly what they wanted and could you not please change this and that. At the same time you will soon discover that the requirements will multiply threefold and that all your estimates can be thrown out the window. It's true, they could have told you earlier what they wanted and saved you a lot of pain, but they seem intent on remaining mysterious. (Do not begrudge them for it. It is that very mystery which gives them an aura of respectability.) On the other hand, when it comes to absurd little details like images and look and feel....you know, those important features that only dumb developers could ignore since they do not know the value of aesthetics and marketing, the client has plenty to crow about. So intent are they on picking on the minutest details of a screen's layout and criticising the line up of images that they will in fact forget to send you the said images. One can't win.

And as an aside, I do value the look and feel of a product. I will gladly praise a graphic artist for his lovely work. But can the reverse be said? Will a graphic artist ever praise my database design? Will they ever view my code and be thrown into a state of ecstasy? Of course not. So it seems to me a little hypocritical to expect developers to value the business side of IT when the business side of IT cares nothing for developers. Let's be fair don't you think?

The demanding client. This one not only throws tantrums, they will pursue you on the phone or stalk you with SPAM until you are so bullied that you can no longer think about your code, let alone think productively.
If you tell your manager that the client is literally making you sick, your manager will tell you to 'not let it get to you'. Believe me, they will. Especially if that client has an impressive network of potential clients from which your manager may have something to gain. Believe me, life is that ugly. In those circumstances, you need to withdraw yourself from the situation. Purge your rage. Do what I do, for example. Draw obscene drawings of samurai women wielding bloody katanas and paste these doodles on your work monitor. Or still, put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" and tell Admin to take your calls for you.

There are ways to deal with these sorts. Bury yourself in the wonderful world of Code. The abstract has never been so comforting. Indulge in your smug geekiness where no harm can come to you. Google away at some obscure function and teach yourself something to cheer yourself up. I mean really....Did you really think that you, an introverted, idealistic developer could succeed even for one second in pretending to fit in this world? Did you believe that you could have been normal, you know, an extraverted, pathological liar intent on climbing the social ladder? Forget it. Enjoy not fitting in. It is better for your sanity.

1 comment:

Reuben said...

I do like the YouTube functionality of being able to respond to a video with another video.

Not necessarily a rebuttal, nor a rebuke. Here's mine. http://twistedbits.blogspot.com/2007/05/in-response-to-it-hell-developers.html

Saves me ranting all over yours :)