The Aspiring Manager

A Developer who has decided that to escape the difficulties having to code, their career path should be one of management.


Software engineering is a difficult skill to master. It requires quick problem solving skills, a large amount of knowledge, and an even larger amount of real-world experience. Unlike comparable professional fields, this knowledge and experience becomes obsolete over much shorter periods of time (sometimes months), which requires a constant uptake of new techniques, technologies and tools. The Aspiring Manager wants to escape this grind, and they see management as the way out.

Generally, the coding requirements of a development manager are less than that of a full-time developer. Time is spent in meetings, sending emails, or generally walking around and talking to other people. Managers also tend to make more salary than coders, and management comes with authority. It is an obvious choice for developers looking to get out of writing software.

The problem with a developer who is The Aspiring Manager is that they are working to demonstrate their management skills in hope of a promotion, rather than focusing on writing software. In order to practice their management skills, The Aspiring Manager attempts to manage their peer developers by assigning work, being vocal in meetings, and generally pushing to be involved in more strategic decision making. This makes them disliked equally by their fellow developers as well as by other managers who view The Aspiring Manager as threatening their job security.


It is impossible to solve The Aspiring Manager, as they have already made a clear career choice. Once that decision is made there is no going back. You cannot make them re-like writing software. Even if you force them back into a full time coding role, you will discover the reason why they are The Aspiring Manager: they are not very good at writing software. The intractability of this situation is why so many Aspiring Managers get what they want, and are promoted into management, provided a slot is available.

Generally, Developers in this position are of little damage to a project because their productivity is so low, and they tend not to have very much credibility among developers or management. Often, these individuals spend their careers being shuffled around an organization, as upper management struggles to find a use for them. In this capacity, they can become a danger if a mission critical task is assigned to them, but as this is entirely avoidable, they can safely remain no more than a minor annoyance.

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