Managing Developers...Part 2...Respect Issues

This is Part 2 of my series on managing developers.  

I've had the pleasure of working with managers who have openly complained that their development staff does not respect them. They believe that developers are closet libertarians and just hate authority figures.

Wrong. All developers hate bullshit and stupidity. Period. Developers just display their contempt for stupid bullshit differently. Some display more typical stereotypes (primadonna, cry baby, etc). Those folks are easy to spot. But it will be harder for you as the manager to spot the others who display their disdain for you in more subtle ways. In fact, most managers will love those developers who display courtesy and acceptance of their authority, even though those developers are the ones who might hate management the most. These developers respect you the least, they just don't care to fight you any longer. Or they are circumventing your authority in ways you have yet to notice. Or they are preparing to backstab you.

In fact, some managers, after a period of time and experimentation with new management processes (possibly agile/scrum or kanban) may see behaviors change. Developers display less of the stereotypes listed above and are more model employees. The manager/organization thinks it has found a winning formula when all it has done is caused the developers to have even more disdain, to the point of avoidance. Avoidance is not respect. Apathy is absolutely worse than antipathy. Said differently, the antisocial becomes the asocial. It is far better to have disrespectful little primadonnas then developers who are ambivalent to you.