Why you should promote a Software Developer to a Senior Software Developer ?

Growing Up

Growing Up

In the world of IT, engineers usually grow into either 1) Technical managers with people management responsibilities OR  2) Technical Advisors / Architects working as  individual contributors.

Here the first set of roles do not necessarily need you to have a great technical prowess compared to an architect. Similarly, in an architect role, you need not have great people management / planning, delivery skills compared to a Technical Manager.

We must keep these distinctions in mind when looking at entry level / junior developers. Also, keep in mind the need for utilizing the strengths of your employees and making the weaknesses irrelevant.

Given the above, lets look at various scenarios that usually happen with developers:

  1. Core Technical Strength  of an individual sometimes is not good enough for a more senior role.  You may want to ignore this weak-ness for a while and look at the strengths of the individual.  Like ownership, planning delivery, people skills etc.
  2. Ownership and passion may be great. In this case, let this person  be the driving force for solving a critical problem, may not be solving them problem himself.
  3. Delivery and execution skills may be awesome. In this case, let this person use these skills to drive the planning and execution for a team of individuals. See how this plays.
  4. Some people are just good at their clarity of thought, their inclination towards customers, business etc. You may want to let these people work closely with Product Mgmt in understanding requirements and helping provide a Product Manager view  / proxy to the team and help in documentation for the features being built.
These are only few examples  to show that how one could facilitate a situation where an individual can make best use of his strengths.
After you have provide these opportunities and the employee has done a great job, use that as a business case to promote the employee to a slightly Senior role and reset the expectations that he/she may now have to improve on some of his weaknesses as well to be able to do justice to this new role.
And then see the magic! 
I personally did not use to like this approach, but it actually works like a charm !! If you as a manager show folks that you care a lot about their strengths, then they tend to pay a lot more of attention to their own weaknesses to make you / the company happy. Try this out ! 🙂
The only caveat here is the set straight expectations with other employees on the criteria of a promotion or having someone at a senior role. Spread awareness about the same, having a not-so-technically-solid person at a senior role should not de-motivate / dis-courage geeks / junior folks.
Not only the manager, but all the team members should appreciate and work with the mind-set of respecting people for their strengths.
These are just my thoughts – would love to hear yours in the comments section!
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2 thoughts on “Why you should promote a Software Developer to a Senior Software Developer ?

  1. Pankaj,

    Well written. And i’d like to emphasize on something you have already stated.
    This is: to try different things through out the career. Test a hypothesis via a small experiment, in this case, being the ability to be customer facing, or planning, or even user experience designing.

    Take a look at http://theleanstartup.com/

    thanks
    Rahul

    1. Thanks for the comment and the pointer Rahul ! Yeah, I have been reading through lean startup principles and inspired blogs. The book is in my wish-list !
      Will get to that soon.

      Thanks!
      Pankaj

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