Software Engineering Manager Bad Seeds

3 min readOct 28, 2021
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This cool new title might be tempting to hold, especially for software engineers who have never experienced it before. Few words of advice, this is not a role where we can run and debug our approach safely. The impact of a bad manager can be fatal for software engineers since we are programming at a human cognitive level where our solution or approach can make or break human relationship with her employer, peer, or craft.

An article on how to be a good software engineering manager would be better to be a book instead. Many will learn from it and might improve our understanding of this relatively new field compared to software creation. One way to compare is to look how many books we have about engineering management, not much. Hence if you are a good manager already please write a book.

Now let’s take a look at the bad seeds. We know that the entry point of any relationship is being willingly to approach or be approached. One bad seed is when we know we are not an easy to approach person, this is usually a sign where we should ask ourselves whether we like being nudged every now and then by possibly a random person?

Next thing we should not do after we are approached by or need to approach a person is not to start a communication! Until this is natural and part of you that is easy to trigger, we tend to have a hard time even to say hello to a person. At this point you might be asking whether being an introvert is a disadvantage? I would say no, when we look at the definition of either introvert or extrovert they are trying to look at your dominant traits. Which means you might have something that is in both or in the middle.

Can you see the pattern? The true bad seed of an engineering manager is the weakness of not being able to be a natural communicator. Now let me expand this with a few examples.

Imagine now we are at a bad meeting, now imagine we will be in this kind of meeting multiple times a day. How will you feel? Would you like to be in this situation? The power to endure a meeting is already too expensive for some engineers due its mentally exhausting nature. Next imagine how to enforce a person without any enforcing power, most engineering managers should not power play their position because eventually that can backfire. The answer to all those challenges is that you will need to be a person who is naturally able to understand people.

Do not mistake everything I said above as a no go for an engineer to jump as engineering manager. The point is, we need to understand ourselves whether we can be a good manager or not. If not, I don’t think jumping to a managerial role will be a wise decision.