I recently worked with a programmer who’s “been in the biz” for a long time. He’s got a lot of very successful projects under his belt and generally knows what he’s doing. When I found out I would be working with him on a side project along with a bunch of younger programmers, I was pleased. As project manager, I thought he would give the group a good edge given his experience.

Unfortunately, experience doesn’t only teach us good habits. Almost immediately, this programmer began to exhibit “my way or the highway” behavior. He didn’t like to collaborate or discuss, he just wanted to dictate. He couldn’t understand why his experience didn’t command immediate respect and compliance with his opinions.

Photo by Shahram Sharif

Experience carries a lot of weight. There are just some things you can’t learn until you do it. However, just because you’ve done something before, doesn’t mean you can tell other people what to do. An inexperienced passionate person can sometimes bring something to the table that an experienced person would overlook since he’s “never done things that way.” Always deferring to the experienced person also prohibits growth in other team members, not to mention squashing their motivation to achieve and become experts themselves.

Ironically, this programmer began to micromanage his fellow teammates in such a way that he lost all respect from that team, including me. He never understood that to get respect, you have to share it with others, even if they have less experience than you.

-Deborah Fike

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