Do you have a Boomer Manager?

Do you report to a Boomer Manager?

Boomer managers have been ubiquitous for decades.

They create a culture that causes employees anxiety, dissatisfaction and frequent distress.

This fact is not in dispute.

How to tell if your manager is a Boomer Manager

Read all these traits and give your manager one point for each trait.

Boomer Manager Traits

1. Demands everyone must be better

For example, if the team did 40 story points this sprint your manager will demand the team do 43 story points next sprint.

Boomers have this drive to always be improving and continuing to set higher bars for success. Running your team at 100% productivity for weeks on end is a hell no one wants to be in.

2. If you're not typing, you're not working.

Does your manager side-eye you when you're standing away from your desk?

When you're at your desk and your manager walks by, do you clench up and start fake typing?

3. All office all the time. No remote work.

There isn't anything boomer managers hate more than remote work.

How can they use their intimidation tactics on you when you're comfortably at home wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers?

4. Meeting culture.

So many meetings.

In flow state? Stop and attend this meeting that has nothing to do with you.

Enough said here.

5. Document everything!

People might be seething on this one. I'm not talking about every type of documentation but let's be real here. Most documentation written will never be read again.

6. 100% test coverage. Test everything.

Much like document everything, there's a notion that if you write a line of code you need to test it.

This creates a phenomenon called Test Psychosis.

You don't need to test your getters/setters. You don't need to test your code that calls your ORM layer to get a record.

You need to test the business logic part. That's it.

Any more testing creates too many long term liabilities. Think of it as a sibling to tech debt. You've created too much code and as a result it's difficult to maintain.

I could talk about this for hours but I'll leave this first principle of software development.

Every line of code is a future liability. This especially applies to tests.

7. Cheapskate.

Team outings? Nope. You don't even get meme pizza.

Need premium tools that cost money? You already know the answer.

The Boomer Manager needs to pinch every penny because he needs a large bonus.

The speedboat he's got bookmarked requires a large bonus. And he's getting it. No matter what.


8. Bully leadership.

Intimidate your employees to get maximum productivity. What a loser strategy.

I'm sure everyone reading this has or had a manager like this. It makes you dread going to work.

This is another topic I can talk for hours on.

Bad managers run their teams with Bully Leadership

Great managers run their teams with Advocacy Leadership

9. Weekly status reports.

If you're engaged with your direct reports, this is unnecessary.

Managers need to execute good daily communication with their people.

I mean how sad is it that a manager is so out of touch with their team that everyone needs to write out what they did all week. Manager needs to already know.

10. Impossible goals/deliveries.

Boomer Managers always think whatever they're in charge of is equivalent of putting men on the moon. Keep grinding team. Work overtime. GRIND GRIND GRIND.

And if by some miracle the team meets these insane milestones, they get a soft congratulations as a reward. See Cheapskate above.

Also, Boomer Managers now know how much the team can do so they'll start expecting that every sprint.

11. Offshoring.

Boomer Managers are obsessed with offshoring. They love hiring developers at a lower rate elsewhere in the world. The only thing they love more than hiring cheaper offshore people is firing people.

So for Boomer Managers offshoring is a two for one.

In my experience, offshoring brings mixed results. Mostly the idea is good though. Draw from a larger talent pool. Makes sense.

Where it falls apart is when the Boomer Managers bring in offshore people, and put them in a team of onshore guys. The timezones are 12 hours apart.

You can see the problem. They have set up a team that's always off schedule. This leads to little team cohesion.

If you offshore, make sure the timezones have at most a 4 hour spread. The team needs to be together, even if it's on zoom, during regular business hours.


Most managers will exhibit some of these. The Boomer Score is a gradient.

Give one point for each Boomer Manager trait and consult the next section.

Official Boomer Score

0 : Amazing. Your boss has avoided all the pitfalls of Boomer Manager-dom. You probably have a great work culture and a good job, Score: Like going fishing where you catch a fish every 5 minutes

1-3 :Ok. It could be worse. There's good news though. As a member of the manager's team, you can work your manager over and get your manager to stop one or two of those traits. It will take time but it's possible. Score: Like being at the airport when your flight is delayed.

3-6 : This one ie 50/50. If you stay you have a total Boomer Manager. But if you quit and go somewhere else, it could be worse. Score: Like being on the game show Let's Make a Deal where you won a Donkey.

6-9 : Welcome to hell. Sorry buddy but you're fucked. Score: You are Sisyphus.

10 or more of these? Time for your boss to throw celebration in his honor. Score: Your manager is Mayor of BoomerTown.


What does your manager's score mean? Each one of the traits highlight a management anti-pattern. The more you see at your job, the worse off you are. The worse off the culture is. The worse off the company is.

As the software industry evolves, the management has to evolve too. Too many people think they're the 90's GE CEO Jack Welsh. They're not.

The old ways of managing has to go and usher in the new way. We can improve the happiness of software employees while simultaneously increasing everyone's productivity.

It's possible and we have to do it.

The first step is to identify all the anti-patterns and abolish them.

I'm confident the next generation of software developers will have better lives and produce incredible software products.

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