8 biggest myths about managing geeks

Managing talented techies can be tricky business. Here's how not to treat IT pros

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Geek management myth No. 6: Techies couldn't care less about business

Another familiar myth is that IT pros are completely uninterested in what the business side is doing. That's simply wrong, says Dave Gruber, director of developer marketing for Black Duck Software, a management and consulting firm for businesses that rely on open source software.

"Geeks get excited about more than code," he says. "Engage them in your business. You'll be surprised how interested most geeks are in understanding the bigger picture and will ultimately develop more relevant code when they do."

Organizations that fail to invite tech pros to the table miss out on the expertise and experience they may bring in other areas, such as Internet marketing, UX design, and market segmentation, to name a few examples, says Brett Suddreth, editor at IT Career Paths.

"We are more than just technology gurus," he says "We have a lot of insights into the business that could help push the organization forward. Start including us in your brainstorming meetings when you are about to pitch new clients -- you never know what we will come up with."

Geek management myth No. 7: Geeks are antisocial misfits

While the tech field tends to attract more introverts than extroverts, the image of geeks holed up in their cubicles thrumming away on their keyboards while everyone else around parties just doesn't hold water.

"I think the biggest myth is that geeks are antisocial," says David Jessurun, freelance Web designer and consultant. "In fact, one of the best guys I ever had in my teams had only one major issue: I had to constantly track him down and pry him away from the pretty girls in other departments -- and they from him."

Encouraging tech staff's social side is in fact a great motivator, says Live Leer, director of internal communications at Web browser company Opera Software.

"We host Friday beers, International Women's Day events, plus Christmas and summer parties, and our employees have organized among themselves board-games nights, singing groups, sailing trips, and dance classes," she says. "Also contrary to 'geek' stereotypes, we've found that offering a psychology service, having a masseur visit weekly, and generally offering a family-friendly workplace where staff can bring their children to work if needed is great for accommodating our employees and their needs."

Geeks need to develop good relationships with their coworkers, even if they are reluctant to do so, says life coach Scott Crabtree, chief happiness officer (yes, really) for Happy Brain Science.

"Introverts won't shout about how they need contact with people; they might even resist social activity," he says. "But science suggests that both introverts and extroverts benefit greatly from social contact. Providing opportunities for geeks to be social will boost their happiness and therefore their productivity, creativity, and health."

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