Tim Bornholdt

The Schmidt List: Moving from Development to Management with Ryan Johnson

I had to laugh out loud when Ryan said, "Oh shoot, I'm giving away my entire playbook here," to which Kurt replied, "Don't worry, nobody listens to this show."

This episode of The Schmidt List (which you aught to subscribe to, by the way) was particularly timely as we are working to hire our first full-time employee at The Jed Mahonis Group that wasn't already a good friend of ours.

Some of the key interview questions I will (shamelessly) borrow and use in our upcoming interviews include:

What gets you excited to go to work every day?

You're looking for something other than "co-workers". Something related to the job itself is ideal.

What do you think of automated testing?

As Kurt put it, this is essentially an updated "tabs vs. spaces" question. The aim is to get the developer to walk you through their reasoning for one thing or the other, and regardless of their answer, the big takeaway is whether they can justify their position.

What are you excited about in tech?

This is in lieu of the classic "what is your current side project" question, which I've never really been a fan of for the reasons they mention in the episode. Instead, this question allows you to see if they are keeping up with the industry and have thoughts on its direction.

In addition to these hiring nuggets of wisdom, the rest of the episode is a fantastic resource for anyone who is going to be moving into a role of managing developers. Two thoughts I took away:

1) Empathy, above all else, is what makes a team flow. A manager needs to be empathetic to the struggles that an employee may be going through (including changing requirements, stresses outside of work, etc.). Equally important is ensuring team members are empathetic to the struggles that their manager may be going through (including changing requirements, stresses outside of work, etc.).

2) Giving negative feedback to reports is important, and it's time to stop being Minnesota Nice about it. Not giving negative feedback is simply narcissistic and selfish.