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3 Reasons IT Managers Should Retain Coding Skills

As IT professionals rise through the ranks, it can be easy to lose touch with the very skills that impressed executives in the first place. For software engineers, this is especially true, as supervisors often spend far more time in meetings than in front of a computer.

But as important as it is to delegate, managers still need to regularly polish their skills, for a variety of reasons. MongoDB founder Eliot Horowitz recently wrote that managers should spend 30 percent of their time coding.Horowitz says he arrived at the figure because 30 percent is the amount of coding required to keep up with changes in a codebase that is actively under development. Here are three top reasons managers should dedicate a portion of each workweek to coding.

Keep Skills Fresh

If there's one thing we've learned over the past couple of decades, it's that technology never remains stagnant. Market demands drive constant changes to programming languages, requiring developers to work hard to keep their skills fresh. The same need applies to managers, who are often required to present their credentials. Additionally, by actively participating in the industry, IT managers can more easily communicate with team members, who may describe a problem a manager hasn't personally experienced if he's been out of the market for a while.

Estimating workload

IT managers are consistently asked to help estimate the time it will take to complete various aspects of a project. Whether answering to a project manager or end users, supervisors tasked with overseeing coders must always be aware how long it takes to code each section of a project. Failure to be able to provide an informed answer to this question could result in a manager being seen as incompetent.

Set a good example

When a manager isn't afraid to get down in the trenches alongside his workers, he sets a good example for his team members. As deadlines loom and pressure increases, it will mean a lot to your staff that you're willing to help out where you can. This "team player" attitude shows that you aren't afraid to take on the same demands your workers endure.