Your job is not “developer”

It’s also not “analyst”, or “sysadmin” or “tester”.

Your job is definitely not “manager”.

In a modern software team, your job is to help your team ship working software so your employer (customer) gets more value.

The skills you use to help your team do that might be mostly development, or mostly devops technologies, or mostly people management, or you might be a great organiser and facilitator so you often wear the “scrum master” hat. That’s cool.

But your responsibility is to judge which of your skills you should be applying for your team at any given time.

If the most useful thing you can do, that no-one else in the team can do right now, is pair with one of the other team members on a feature, pair. If it’s running the retrospective, stand up and talk. If it’s making a round of cups of tea for the team because you’ve just finished a task any everyone else has their head down, go to the kettle.

If you think that you’re just there to write code, and that testing it isn’t your problem, or you shouldn’t have to talk to users, then you need to expect more of yourself, get out of your comfort zone and start working for your team instead of by yourself. You’re hiding. Bring your whole self to work and get on with delivering value.

If you think you’re a “senior” developer, and you’re not spending a significant portion of your time actively helping mentor, coach and teach the other members of your team, then you’re not using your skills for the benefit of your team. You’re either hiding again, or you’re not as senior as you think you are.

And — “managers” — if you think that you job is to manage the developers to make sure they do things right, or that they report to you and you’re responsible for their productivity, or that you get to tell people what to do instead of working your ass off to make their lives easier so they can all do their best work — then I respectfully suggest that you are doing the wrong things, and you should re-evaluate how you think about software development.

Originally published at on November 24, 2017.

Builds and applies technology. Speaks, mentors, coaches. Founder of Trolley —

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