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.. it should be easy!

Funny how you learn things about managing people as you mature in an industry. I’ve recently run into one of my biggest pet peeves with managers.. only this time it came not from another manager but from a client.

There seems to be a tendancy, when a meeting gets stressful such as when deadlines are looming or a someone is pressing for a new feature to be added to the product that someone, at some point will say, “Yah, because it shouldn’t be too hard to add just this thing, right?” Or “You can just do this too, it’ll be easy!”

I don’t think, when something like that is said, that person realizes just exactly what they are saying.

At no time should anyone, ever, tell someone else their job is “easy.” Particularly when they are not experienced in that job. I don’t care how many programmers you’ve managed, you should never tell a them a particular programming task “shouldn’t be hard” or “is easy” unless you, yourself, are a working programmer and are intimately involved with the code on that project.

Telling someone else their job is “easy” is disrespectful. It demeans what they are doing and actually trivializes their contribution to the entire project.

When a client uses this tactic with a developer, it’s even more insidious. Clients do it as a way to try to coerce the developer into adding something to the feature list without adding to the schedule. By implying the work they are requesting is “easy” implies the developer can do it in no time and that it will not affect the schedule at all.

What the client may not realize is this is shooting themselves squarely in the foot, for in that one phrase they are demeaning the work the developer is doing and they are attempting to implement feature creep which, in the end, can only result in 1)crunch time for the developer 2) a higher probability of a buggy release and 3) a deterioration of communication between client and developer. None of this is good for the project.. and ultimately the client’s wallet!

So, next time you are tempted to say “That should be easy, right?” to someone you are working with, think about it again. It’s not just disrespectful, but can actually be detrimental to the health of the project!

Published inRandom Musings


  1. Great points! This is not directly related, but reminded me of your experiences.

    I did some development on the NeXT platform back in the late 90s. This was one of the first systems to have a graphical tool for building an application’s GUI. We learned early on NEVER to show this tool to clients. Because then they thought our whole job was just connecting GUI widgets together with this slick tool. And any change took just a couple minutes!

    I’ll throw in a pet peeve of mine as well. Have you ever had a sales person or executive say something like, “This client is VERY important so make sure you do an extra good job with them”? This implies, of course, that you do so-so work for all the other clients.

  2. Xyzzy Xyzzy

    Thank you for writing this! Even though it’s only partly related, you finally put into words *why* it has bothered me so much when I run into comments in the technical/open-source community claiming that writing & editing is a breeze. I think I’m going to have to use this as my signature (credited to you, of course) on a few forums:
    “Telling someone else their job is “easy” is disrespectful. It demeans what they are doing and, actually trivializes their contribution to the entire project.”

    I’ll have to send a link to this entry over to my brother as well. After around a decade working his way up to management in playtesting at various firms, he has doubtless run into the same problems. One boss/manager was destructive enough that the team conspired to get the sexist homophobic credit-stealing jerk fired.

    PS. I’m glad you’re writing about your experiences again, by the way… I wish more people — especially women — in the game-creation field were taking the time to do so.

  3. silvar1 silvar1

    Glad it hit a note for ya! And truthfully, it’s one of those things you kind of consciously have to avoid saying and pick your words carefully to restructure what you want to say or ask.

    So instead of
    “You can just add Feature X, it should be easy!”

    You have to think to say, “How difficult would it be to add feature X?” This gives them credit for understanding their job and does not imply you know their job better than they do!

    Thank you for reading!

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