A little background first. I'm a project manager at medium-sized company. I started as a CS major and had a little exposure to programming, but after a few months I knew it's not my path, so I switched over to management. That proved to be a good decision, and after graduating I've worked in software management at various companies (for 5 years now).
Recently, we had a very painful project. It was the worst of the worst, with many mistakes both on our side and on the customers side and just barely ending it without losses. It has led to many frustrating situations, one of which escalated to the point where one of our senior developers left company after a vocal argument with us (the management). This was a red flag for me: I did something terribly wrong. (for the record, the argument was about several mistaken time estimates)
I searched many places for answers and a friend pointed me to this site. There are many questions here about frustrations with management. I can understand that the general bad experiences lead to a general reluctance against "those guys in the suits".
I'm that guy in the suit. It may not look like it, but all I want is a successful project, and with limited resources it takes painful decisions. That's my job. One of the things the aforementioned senior developer complained about was work equipment. Frankly, I had no idea that the computers we had were not suited for working. After this, I asked many programmers and the general consensus was that we need better machines. I fixed that since then, but there was obviously a huge communication gap between me and the programmers. Some of the most brilliant developers are the most shy and silent people. I know that, and it was never a problem during an interview. People are different, and have strengths at different areas.
The case of the underpowered PCs is just one of the many that led me to thinking that there is a communication issue. How can I improve communication with programmers without being intimidating and repetitive?
What I'm hoping is that people don't complain about good things. If you love your workplace and love (or at least like :)) your manager, please tell me about them. What are they doing right? Similarly, if you hate it, please describe in detail why. I'm looking for answers about improving communication because I think that is my problem, but I might be wrong.