When was the last time you heard a developer friend of yours complain that their life is nothing more than typing out code? I met a bunch of my friends last weekend over brunch, most of them are now developers working for various companies across the globe. One common thing they all share irrespective of language, ethnicity and everything else is CODE. They do the same thing day in and day out : get up, work out, come get a cup of coffee at work, churn out code after code, leave home feeling like nothing can ever change in their lives. We live in a world of people calculating return on investments all the time. Considering each one of us is going to spend a fair chunk of our lives at work, have any of you wondered thought what is the return that one can get from investing so many hours on this, especially coding?. Apart from the handsome remuneration, of course! Considering I work for a product company and closely with an engineering team, it made me wonder, how would I go about creating a happy development team? What goes into the making of an awesome team? 

Let’s Try And Understand What An Awesome Development Team Is:  

An amazing development team would be curious to learn, ready to solve problems and go the extra mile to scale up and keep updating themselves to the latest technological advancements all within the established rules of the organization within an agreed time frame. They don’t have to be constantly monitored on how they are doing, as each of them hold themselves accountable for the work they do. This is the essence of what every organization strives to achieve. Most of the managers try to follow the best practices in project management by hiring through a set of norms. 

It takes two to tango, the developers and the management would have work in parallel to build great things and ship amazing software. But what can an organization do from their end to create the best team of developers and more importantly retain them? Of course, like all good things, this is not something which can be done overnight. 

I think Jeff Bezos has nailed it when he said, it’s still day one is amazon for every employee even if they’ve been working years together in the organization. They will be agile and will always function like a startup in spite of being one of the big players.

Let’s break this down even further and understand how this works:

Hiring Process

The hiring process of an organization makes or breaks a company. Every organization wants the best of the best, they want the best designers, product managers and of course, they want the best developers in the world for their company. Unfortunately, developers are limited and the expectations out of them are unlimited. Thus, it is best to have a stringent policy of hiring where they set expectations right. Test them beyond coding challenges, look for their passion for building great things. Have other parameters like aptitude towards innovation. See if they are fascinated with different products and how they are built. An interest in what they are doing goes a long way. You can count on them to stick around and contribute a lot towards the organization if you take hiring seriously. 

Psychological Factors

We all know it’s better to do what you enjoy. It is important developers enjoy their everyday work. It is equally important to have a driven team that one enjoys working with. This can easily be understood with the general office settings, the climate of the organization and how easily the employees engage in meetings. When a developer doesn’t want to engage in any of the social activities, it could be a red flag. Something is not working for them, it could be motivation, unhappiness about work, or they might not like the team they are working with. Either way, it is the manager’s responsibility to check on them to have a happy and motivated bunch of people working as a team.

Motivating Team Lead/Manager

Responsibilities excite everybody, developers are no exception to this! Of course, some of them might not meet the bar but the others might turn out to be exceptional when given additional responsibilities. This brings about a sense of ownership about the product they are building. In turn, they might take it upon them to make sure the product runs smoothly like a well-oiled machine. A strong manager has to be the one to point out flaws promptly, but a strong leader would make sure that no work done by a developer does not go unrecognized. This will create a sense of motivation for each team member to outdo themselves every time.

Encourage Creativity And Learning

It is one thing to be practical and understand every job has some amount of monotony. YES, developers code day in and day out. This doesn’t mean they don’t crave an outlet for creativity and a challenge once in a while. Give them room to mix things up once in a while. Ensure they are given room to try coding in a different language or upgrade themselves by signing up for a udemy course or even better, try expanding their responsibilities to more than just coming in and coding every day. This creates a sense of well being and encourages them to boost their learning curve. 

End of the day no man is an island, it takes an amazing team that functions well together to build awesome software. The importance of effective two-way communication cannot be stressed enough here. Try and apply all these guidelines to your team and see wonderful results. Track progress and understand great work happens not just by checking off items but by forming a culture at work where people enjoy working with one another.