How to handle 5 common developer personalities

There is no 'one size fits all' approach to managing workers -- developers included. Here are tips to recognize and manage some of them

managing creative personalities
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Common developer personalities and how to manage them

It's easy for CIOs to just hope all their employees will mesh well with the company culture, but that's not always the case. And when it comes to developers, no matter what the mix of personalities you have on your team, it's important to have structure and process in place to help deliver quality products fast.

Kevin Dunne, vice president of Strategy and Business Development at QASymphony, a company that develops testing and test management platforms for development teams, has identified five personality types you'll run into as a developer. He also offers tips on how to most effectively manage them.

"The current economy is certainly an employers' economy -- rather than employees' economy -- especially as far as it relates to developers. And developers are creative people, so they are naturally somewhat eccentric. If we want creative developers, we often have to treat them as creative personalities, which comes with letting them have a certain degree of leeway," Dunne says.

The Agile Anarchist
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The Agile Anarchist

Agile is a methodology that helps manage the development, creation, and deployment of software from start to finish. It has become common in development, and many companies use agile to help streamline the development process. But that doesn't mean everyone will be on board with using the software or methodology. Dunne points out that the "Agile Anarchist" is someone who pushes back on this type of structure, and that they'd "prefer to work in chaos rather than under the structure employed by modern dev teams."

The fix: According to Dunne, if you have one of these personality types on your team, the best way to manage them is to "fight fire with fire." CIOs can ultimately change the way a company views agile: "Dispel rumors about agile allowing for laziness," says Dunne, and allow for some level of autonomy when it comes to the development process.

The Tardy Teammate
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The Tardy Teammate

Developers have working styles, and some people are just perpetually late on delivering the final pieces of a project. When it comes to developers, that tardiness can affect release dates or client delivery dates, so it's important to figure out how to keep these workers on track, says Dunne. But there is a fine line between being the "Tardy Teammate" and being completely checked out. "I think when the problem does not improve when it is brought to their attention, it reflects more as a general disregard for the meeting or feeling that it is unimportant, rather than poor time management and planning," says Dunne.

The fix: To manage this type of worker, it's important to first look at ways you can alter deadlines and deliverable due dates. Typically, these types of workers need more structure and guidance around organization and time management, so it might help to simply introduce project management tools. As long as they aren't completely blasé about their lateness, Dunne says, with some monitoring and guidance you can help this type of employee stay on track.

The Meeting Misser
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The Meeting Misser

Meeting burnout is real, and it leaves a lot of workers disillusioned about the effectiveness of meetings. It becomes an issue when employees are so burdened with meetings that they start to forgo them all together. For developers, this might mean skipping agile meetings such as retrospectives, stand-ups, and grooming sessions, which ultimately leaves them out of the loop, says Dunne.

The fix: Dunne admits that most teams do have an excess of meetings and suggests that CIOs need to seriously consider what meetings are actually valuable. Or, it might even mean taking some people out of certain meetings that aren't serving them. The bottom line is that if you have too many meetings, it will eventually become counterproductive and leave some workers abandoning them all together. Try replacing smaller meetings with other resources, says Dunne, like chats or status updates so that workers don't feel like their day is constantly interrupted.

The Silent Skeptic
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The Silent Skeptic

It's naïve to assume that everyone on your team is totally on board with every project, idea, and final decision. And building a strong team culture doesn't happen overnight. And this is especially true for the "Silent Skeptic," says Dunne. You'll find this personality in the employee who stays quiet, but makes it obvious they aren't completely on board with the decisions being made. They don't necessarily have to speak up for you to realize they're not convinced or happy with new ideas, projects, or products.

The Fix: Dunne says there are ways to get the "Silent Skeptic" on board, and it might not require too much effort. He suggests that CIOs consider "paying bonuses that focus on team performance, rather than individual input," to motivate financially focused developers. Alternatively, he says it might even be as simple as giving this person a less public outlet outside of a big meeting to voice their input and opinion.

The Metric Manager
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The Metric Manager

This person is probably the opposite of the "Tardy Teammate" -- they thrive on metrics, organization, and micromanagement. But too much data isn't always necessarily a good thing, and sometimes these micromanagers can extend their control to projects and teams. "Metric Managers are constantly getting data into spreadsheets to manipulate it and look at very granular metrics. They are typically the ones enforcing tight controls around deadlines and budget and can get in the way of implementing any new processes or tools," Dunne says.

The fix: Dunne says that it's important to pare down the amount of metrics being passed around, and to keep them limited to only the most vital data points. He even suggests that if it's a big enough issue to "bring in an outside voice -- such as a consultant -- who can educate managers on the benefits of fewer metrics."