Why Programmers Need People Skills Too

Programmers People Skills (1)

Programmers also need people skills. One of my favourite TV series, Silicon Valley, clearly illustrates this point. The main character, Richard Hendrix, is CEO of Pied Piper. Although Richard is super brilliant, his Achilles heel is his awkward personality.

However, Richard’s social skills develop with the show. At times, he’s still an awkward nerd. At other times, Richard shows that he is a capable leader, negotiator, and salesperson.

Just like Silicon Valley’s Richard, here are three reasons why successful programmers tend to have strong people skills.

1) Programmers work in teams.

Programmers usually work in teams. Sure, a lot of programmers code alone by their computer. However, programmers usually compile their work in large projects. Hence, it makes sense that strong programmers need project management and team skills such as delegation, time management, and communication.

What happened on Silicon Valley?

In the show, bad teamwork leads to failure and good teamwork leads to success. For example, Dinesh and Gilfoyle are mortal enemies. They argue and often sabotage each other’s work. However, when the team works together to get things done, they get a lot done such as rebuilding their server in under an hour.

What happens in real life?

Strong programming teams have good processes and good team players. For instance, the ZenduIT programming team uses a project management board. Team members use this board to assign work, perform quality check, and prevent work overlap.

2) Programmers get pulled into sales calls.

Another reason why programmers need people skills is because they get pulled into sales calls. There’s a quote in sales – “the more you know, the more you sell”.

Unfortunately, a lot of sales deals go down the drain when a sales rep does not know their software, or worse, over-promises on something the software can’t do. This is when programmers can be a big help!

What happened on Silicon Valley?

Most of the time, Richard is a hopeless public presenter. He fumbles his words, acts awkwardly and even barfs when nervous. That being said, Richard is actually a great public speaker when he speaks from his heart and his (infrequent) passionate speeches are generally successful.

What happens in real life?

Companies usually pair programmers with sales teams for advanced hardware and software. In turn, a people-friendly programmer helps sales teams overcome technical objections and win sales deals.

3) Programmers foster happy customers.

Bugs really bug customers and support teams, pun intended! Programmers are the software 911s because they find and fix technical issues. For that reason, successful programmers balance their time between new projects and squashing software bugs.

What happened on Silicon Valley?

Pied Piper goes through its share of bugs. This is actually where Richard earns the respect of his employees. Whereas Richard’s team struggled to fix software bugs, Richard single-handedly fixed half of the team’s bugs in one day. Thus, even with his poor management skills, Richard’s employees loved him.

What happens in real life?

Successful programmers need to be approachable. For instance, who would you rather work with?

Programmer A: “Leave me alone. My software is perfect and I don’t have time to fix bugs.”

Programmer B: “I can’t do it right now because I’m working on an urgent project but when’s a good time later today to chat?”

There’s a high chance that everyone would choose Programmer B. Programmers should be approachable to the rest of their team because everyone loves and values a team player.

Let us know if you agree with our take on programmers & people skills in the comment section!

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