Blog of Rob Galanakis (@robgalanakis)

How to deal with being a negative developer

There was a recent AltDevBlogADay post about Negative Developers and Team Stability that hit home. It’s not that I think the advice was particularly interesting (good, standard stuff), it’s that it reminded be that I’ve been a negative developer.

I don’t know what I could have done differently. I just wasn’t happy at work, and there was little I could do to change it. The quality of my work was apparently very good, I was just terrible for morale, because I was either 1) pissing people off or 2) encouraging people to be pissed off at the problems I/we saw. Eventually I got the best advice I’ve ever gotten (which deserves its own blog post), and left the company. I went to the right place and became a positive developer.

And that’s sort of what struck me about the article and about how we typically deal with negative developers. Some developers are just not a good fit, regardless of how amazing their work is. If someone is negative because she is “culturally incompatible”, because there’s nothing you or your manager can do to fix it. And it is worth it to have a frank discussion about whether that person can ever be happy without changes to the studio, and if that person says ‘no’, you should discuss plans to part with mutual respect at a mutually agreed date.

I had to put in my two weeks at my last job to have this advice given to me by the President (GM? Can’t remember) at the time. It convinced me to un-quit, and to stay on another year. It ended up being a miserable year in many ways, but it was the right thing to do and worked out for the best. As managers- and friends and team members of negative developers- we need to keep this advice in mind when dealing with negative developers (and ourselves).

2 thoughts on “How to deal with being a negative developer

  1. Seth says:

    great post, I’d be lying if i said I’d never been one of those “negative developers” as well, but for many of the same reasons…

  2. Gian says:

    I started the conversion from being positive to negative when people started to push over my shoulders more and more duties with an increasing disinterest from their side in what i am doing, problems i encounter, how project must be delivered.
    In the last 3 years i’ve worked alone on a 3D architectural design software, from designing to programming at various stages (UI, realtime 3D, networking, 3d models importing, etc etc) and people just didn’t even care on details and they were denying any help or increase of salary with the same old excuses.
    Being a novice, professionally speaking, in 3D programming i continued working for about an year and an half even with the above issues, then i started to work less passionately and in the last year to think about quitting.
    At the end i decided on finishing what i’ve started, even being negative about the whole project/people. In 2 months i’ll finally end this bad expenriences (i’ve been stressed and fat) and start something new with the positive spirit i was having before.
    Even with the notice of leaving people at work just don’t care much or think that things can be assigned to random people without any problem. That’s the bittersweet memory that’ll remain of it, i hope.

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