Derik Whittaker



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Developer training, a real (non)success story

About a year ago I created a few posts on the topic of Developer Ramp time and how companies can help the process as well as why different developers ramp up at different speeds.  Developer ramp time and how companies can aid in speeding up this time is critical not only to a new employee's success, but also that of the team they are joining.

This is why I was so shocked to hear a story from a buddy of mine about his company and their philosophy on developer ramp time. 

The story goes something like this:

My buddy (we will call him Will for this post) has recently been put in charge of the maintenance team at his company.  Currently there are a total of 5 people on this team, 4 developers and him.  Because his team is rocking and getting things done the company decided to hire on 2 more developer and put them on his team.  Because Will is one of these guys that believes in doing things the right way and because he sees the value in trying to speed up/aid the ramp time for new developers he decided he would like to put together a plan of action for these new developers.

So Will spent a little time putting together a high level list of things he thought a new developer would need in order to become a upstanding member of the team.  However, because he did not want to spend too much time on this with out getting buy-in from his boss (should be a walk in the park) he simply put together a outline of what he wanted to do and sent that to his boss.

Along with sending the outline to his boss, he also provided a summary of his intentions and goals for his training.  Will was looking for his boss to give him the thumbs up on moving forward with this training and figured he would start putting together the materials in the next day or so.

Will was shocked when he received the reply from his boss that simply stated the following

'The new developers are both professionals and adults and should be able to learn all they need to on their own.'

Needless to say that when Will received this reply he was not a happy camper.  How is he meant to help his team succeed if he is not allowed to help them ramp up?

The moral of the story here is that training new employees is painful, it is hard and it can be expensive.  However, not training them can be even more painful and more expensive because they will be less productive and potentially make more errors.

Any company that does not see this or does not value this is not a place I would like to work, and keeping me around may be hard. 

Till next time,

[----- Remember to check out DimeCasts.Net -----]

Posted 06-30-2008 7:42 AM by Derik Whittaker
Filed under: ,



Dave Schinkel wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 06-30-2008 9:03 AM

My opinion:  His boss should be the first one fired and it's most likely LONG overdue...probably years and I bet you that environment has a LOT of turnover because of one guyd.  Those kind of managers get there not because they are a manager, but because they hacked their way up the ladder.  These kind of managers make IT a horrible place to work.

Fire him...seriously...but that would never happen.  Cause all his golf buddies that are on the same level would hate to see him not longer go on those VP golf outings. wrote Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 06-30-2008 9:07 AM

You've been kicked (a good thing) - Trackback from

jdn wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 06-30-2008 8:52 PM

Another similar non-success story is when a department comes up with a 2-week training course for all new employees that is developed over a long period of time, and then approved by management because everyone agrees it is a good thing.

Until a new employee comes along, and no one has time to actually implement the training program because they are all working under nearly impossible deadlines.  So, good existing training exists, but it is rarely if ever used.


Kamran Shahid wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 07-01-2008 2:21 AM

Those type of stupid manager are the key to failure.

Colin wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 07-01-2008 4:42 PM

This is why I just don't tell a manager something they don't need to know. Just go ahead and do what you like with your own team.

chris wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 07-01-2008 5:30 PM

Well, if that quote was taken from an email at least that guyput his ignorance on record in written correspondence.  Assuming that's true I'd be tempted to reply to the guy w/ something along the lines of the following:

RE: "'The new developers are both professionals and adults and should be able to learn all they need to on their own."

Boss, I'm confused by your response and would like to meet with you in person so we can discuss the topic of employee development and training.  I feel that I must have misunderstood your response because it seems to imply that training is appropriate for only those employees who are either un-professional or children.    Since we do not hire children nor do we hire un-professional candidates I can only conclude that there is some other issue informing your decision to not support training. Perhaps if we discuss the underlying issues so that we can work something out that will address your concerns as well as mine.

Burn in hell,



Lloyd wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 07-01-2008 7:59 PM

I've attempted in every way I know how to communicate that training for new coders is extremely necessary and it falls on deaf ears.  The latest I heard from the support folks is one of the new fellas responded to a performance issue with "It's supposed to run that slow".  

The guy has potential, it's not his fault, management is to blame...

Unfortunately, you can't fix stupid

tokes wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 07-02-2008 4:15 AM

Guys - while this bosses attitude that the new devs can learn on their own is misguided it's important to note that it's not always necessary to "go on a training course" to learn something new. In my experience bosses can be strongly averse to people spending time on training courses (i.e. not being chargeable and bringing in the dineros) when they could be learning on the job. By this I mean sitting alongside someone who knows what they are doing, picking up information and tips from their peers. Informal training of this nature, is in my opinion, far more valuable than formal training.

Grant C wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 07-02-2008 8:42 AM

While the manager's a rube, your friend is a rube. You don't provided detail, but I suspect that  the activities he proposed aren't "developer training", they're "developer onboarding". If Will is really intending to train people development basics, then yes they're either bad hires or that's coddling. If you're teaching them the project ropes--how you manage source control + ci, architectural and coding guidelines, design standards, unit test standards, etc.--then that's onboarding. I wouldn't even have thought to run it by management, it's the logical first thing every new arrival to one of our teams does, regardless of experience.

Kamran Shahid wrote re: Developer training, a real (non)success story
on 08-07-2008 7:19 AM

Superb Comment from Chris.

Looks like he is champion of words.

I need to know about him if he can provide some info about his profile.

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