MineI really hate it when managers refer to people (developers) as resources! I am not sure if this is an issue in other fields, but I do know software and it is rampant. Everyone is always concerned with resources.

“We’re going to need more resources”

“Are you sure we have the resources?”

It really is hard to get good resources these days. The longer I spend building software, the more I find myself annoyed when I hear this talk of resources. Hardware is a resource, so is possibly computing power, certainly crude-oil; people are not resources!

Referring to people as resources, creates an impression that developers are plug-and-play components. Worse than that it makes it seem as if there is a readily available and inexhaustible supply of these “resources”. Of course, these days we all know that even real resources such as oil, gas are not inexhaustible or as readily available as they have been in the past. But the attitude fostered by using the word remains the same.

The problem with this one is that, it’s quite insidious. That’s how all the big boys talk, you want to play with the big boys, you gotta pick up the lingo. Any fresh-faced young manager or developer can instantly make themselves sound more “with-it” by throwing the R word around. And when everyone around you is doing it, you can’t help but fall into it as well. It happens to me all the time, so I have to mentally kick myself every time I catch myself doing it.

It’s about respect you see. Like calling the waiter serving you in a restaurant – “garcon”. Noone likes being referred to as “boy” and they like it even less if you equate them to an inanimate carbon rod. If you’re going to treat your developers as amorphous balls of goo, don’t be surprised when they don’t buy into your “corporate vision” and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the products you’re building.

If you’re a manager or even a developer with a penchant for calling people resources, please stop! If you have non-verbal references (in spreadsheets, schedules etc), go and change them all to the names that should have been there in the first place. If you hear others using it, pull them up on it. I am a believer in the fact that a lot of small changes, over time, can add up to making a big difference (more on that later) and this one small change will make a big difference all on its own – I guarantee it.

What I like to do these days, every time I hear the word “resources”, is ask the question:

“You mean people, right?”

Cause you never know, they could mean gold bullion, in which case I would agree – those things are hard to come by and you can never have too much.

Image by Uncle Kick-Kick