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I could be a completely ignorant person here, but that's exactly why I'm asking this.

Why does an engineering team need a non-technical manager? What exactly is his job?

I mean, I do understand the need for tech leads, which as far as I know, is all we need; that is, someone to provide technical guidance as to how to do certain things or someone to review my code, etc.

But I don't see why we need a manager whom I only ever interact with in cases when he comes to me and asks what I'm doing and when I am going to finish my projects, etc, or if I need anything from him (which I usually don't because most if not all of my professional needs can only be fullfilled by someone who can actually code), all of which seems rather redundant given the availability of various project-tracking tools (jira, bugzilla, pivotal, confluence, etc)

That seems like a rather waste of resource, does it not? (And I dont think a manager's salary is anywhere lower than 120k!)

Edit (in response to answer below): - We already have a product manager whose job is to make sure the products being built will be useful to clients/users.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Jim G., Jan Doggen, Michael Grubey, IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 29 '14 at 3:05

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  • 2
    A question nearly identical to this is on programmers.SE. – Telastyn Sep 27 '14 at 3:41
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    The manager's greatest value to you is in buffering you, as much as possible, from all the non-technical stuff the company requires in order to function. – keshlam Sep 27 '14 at 3:43
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    I absolutely agree with @keshlam. Moreover, you are trying to judge his/her work from an apparently small slice of it which is visible to you. You have no idea of the full scope of her responsibilities. Btw have you considered politely asking her? That would give you a much better answer than all our guesses here combined ;-) – Péter Török Sep 27 '14 at 4:29
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    Lots of unknowns in this question - what is your role, how big is your team, how many engineers and other staff are there below the manager? That's just a start – HorusKol Sep 29 '14 at 0:01
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    Lots of good reasons to have a non-technical manager in a team. The biggest is that they know how to communicate with non-technical people in a way that is unnatural and difficult for engineers. They can act as an ambassador for the team so progress and requirements can be effectively shared with other non-techs in the company. – Myles Sep 29 '14 at 20:25
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Here're my guesses:

To make sure the product is progressing as envisioned by the business.

Monitor that work is on track and evaluate any impact it could have on other projects should your resource is overrun. To watch for risks and, ideally, mitigate them.

To offer a non-technical perspective.

To have knowledge of the project so he is able to effectively communicate with clients and update his managers on the status of the project.

To keep you motivated and keep an eye on any conflicts within the team working on the project)

EDIT: Also he might just have an interest in the project. Or want to make sure you're not over-worked and stressed. He could even be trying to build up your relationship, or at least become more familiar with your attitudes/how you work. Slightly more outlandish ideas, I know, but not impossible.

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