Has it ever happened to you that you are a good developer but suddenly you need to lead a team or are responsible for some PM activities as well? Did you find that it affected your productivity? How did you handle it?

I love my job, but I sometimes feel I was much happier as a programmer and the additional burden of being a Project Manager is currently affecting my productivity as a developer. What do you guys suggest as remedies to this?

I do not have an alternative currently to quit from my job - basically because Im working for a startup that I co-founded.

  • 4
    Being a co-founder, isn't it your responsibility to manage, at least a little bit?
    – Jeremy
    Dec 6, 2010 at 20:02
  • Yeah im not denying that.. I just hate the fact that I cant seem to do justice to programming.. Dec 6, 2010 at 20:04
  • 1
    founding a startup is very tough and you will have to fight resistance to change with courage.
    – user2567
    Dec 6, 2010 at 21:27

5 Answers 5


I think that it's impossible to quickly shift from PM mode to Dev mode. I'm teamleader in my normal job and programmer for a website during the nights. When I become teamleader I tried to keep contributing with the code, but I soon discovered that it was impossible.

The new responsibilities required me to speak with people or check emails several times in a hour, impossible to write code in that condition. So now when I have some spare minutes at work I started to seat with someone of the team, especially with junior, and try to help him/her.

I saw that this is increasing team productivity overall probably more than if I could spend some time writing code.


In my experience, having both roles at the same time, in the same project, causes severe problems. As a developer, you are acutally reporting to yourself, so you are basically unmanaged. If you consider yourself a better programmer than your peers, you are likely to avoid delegating difficult tasks to them, so in addition to your PM tasks, you are also working on the most sophisticated parts of the project. Parttime, that is.

A few days ago, someone posted this link, and I think it fits here, too.

  • Wow.. that article is scary! +1 for scaring the crap out of me. Dec 7, 2010 at 10:34
  • I've been in a similar situation, with similar results. One problem is that it is really difficult to feel responsible for the whole project as a PM, but only for the task you've assigned to yourself as a developer. This is a mental switch I'm not built for (and I doubt many others are).
    – user281377
    Dec 7, 2010 at 10:51

Yes it does. I worked at a firm where the team leader quite and a replacement was no where in site. The head of accounting started to 'manage' our group by basically let us manage ourselves and explain everything we were working on in a weekly meeting as if speaking to a 2-year-old (Including dealing with his tantrums.).

I felt I wasn't learning anything. Spending too much time on BS instead of coding. No one in our group was considered good enough to be the leader. The situation was chaos. Once the main project I was working on was near completion, I started looking for another job and found one.

If your goal is to be a PM, do both for awhile, but don't stick with a situation where you can't choose the path you want.

  • I like the fact that you said 'situation' rather than 'job'. Dec 7, 2010 at 3:47

The work patterns for PM and developer are pretty badly aligned.

For the most parts developers need long periods of concentration where PMs tend to be dealing with things being thrown at them from all directions all the time. As a result if you try and do the two simultaneously you're almost certain to fail.

The best way to do it is disciplined time management.

Assuming a 50 / 50 split (adjust if that's not true), then I'd make mornings your PM time and afternoon's your development time. During your development time redirect your phones to voicemail, close e-mail, disable instant messaging and so on. Then at the end of the day check messages and e-mails for anything urgent, deal with those and then leave the rest for your next PM slot.

You'll need to explain to your co-founder what you're doing and why and get their buy in and you're going to need to be disciplined but it is possible, so long as you don't try to do both at once.

  • Makes sense to split it time wise.. I am learning how to do that to some extent currently. Dec 7, 2010 at 11:27


I've worked in a team lead role multiple times and I'm currently doing more dev management stuff. I delegate as much as possible to particular people who I know can do those tasks. This has the dual benefit of getting those people exposure to the bigger picture of the SDLC, while preparing/judging their ability to become leaders in the future.

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