17 Ways to Motivate Your Dev Team

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@slava-vaniukovSlava Vaniukov

CEO, Co-Founder at Softermii

You know, that the software development process is not simple, sometimes frustrating, and exhausted with strict deadlines and requirements.
And one of the biggest problems for me as for Co-Founder and CEO of software development agency is keeping our development team motivated all the time.
That is especially true for now when all the dev teams work remotely because of the COVID-outbreak. So I’d like to share a few strategies from my personal experience that help me to keep my company engineering teams motivated.
Also, I’d like to share common approaches that didn’t work for increasing ream motivation in our case. 

What Works To Keep Development Team Motivated

1. Try to Keep the Atmosphere Positive

You are bound to run into some challenges every once in a while, as the team works on a project. It’s best to adopt a glass-half-full attitude. Try to discourage negativity from your team members.  

2. Invest in and Use New Technologies 

Software development is an area where new techniques and products hit the market frequently. Make sure to embrace them if they are useful to you, rather than shy away from them.

3. Everyone on the Same Page About Specifications

Every project has some details that might seem minor, but matter a great deal. We make sure that all our team members know about those, so there are no major missteps. That helps to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings in the team.

4. Lead by Example

It won’t do you any good if you tell your team to behave a certain way, and then you act differently. Promote the behavior that you want to see by acting that way yourself.

5. Motivate Them with Rewards

Everyone responds well if they know that there’s a reward for them at the end of the line. We set up milestones for our team and a reward system for achieved KPIs, released projects, successful ideas and more.

6. Implement Training and Learning 

The only way that you and your team can familiarize yourself with new tools and techniques is to have frequent lessons, seminars, and tutorials. Take steps to make those happen.  

7. Recognition and Appreciation

Employees respond well to recognition. This approach works especially grateful. Establishing a culture in which people frequently thank each other and express gratitude toward other team members helped me to keep all the team motivated.

8. Opportunities for Growth

Providing opportunities for your team to excel is a wise idea. We implemented the system when we discuss with every specialist his goals for career. Then we try to allocate employees accordingly - that they handle the job they’d love and grow in their profession. In results, they will continue producing quality work and remain loyal to the company.

9. Empower Through Autonomy

Software engineers should be empowered to make decisions about their work. Guidelines and policies should be respected, but generally, it's better if your technical staff agrees on coding standards, processes, tools, and design decisions. As a business leader, you should define end objectives and empower the staff to figure out how to get there.

10. Simplify and Streamline

Needlessly-complicated structuring for our team made it be counterproductive. So we simplified and streamlined team structure and processes running.

11. Set Attainable Goals

Realistic goals are essential when we’re trying to keep everyone motivated. Setting up S.M.A.R.T. goals is a great way to assign tasks to the proper team members and within the optimal deadline. It’s really important as strict deadlines are the major problems in motivation for the developers’ job.
And, of course, make your team aware about what their engineering metrics you are tracking to be on the same page.

12. Don't Punish Failure

Failure is part of the software development process. You should expect it sometimes, and it’s never a reason to punish a team member.

13. Respect

Respect the individualism and unique talents of your team members. Having this type of culture is critical in our team to keep everyone feels happy and appreciated.

14. Let Developers Develop 

From personal experience, I can say, that you should communicate with your team members, but you should not be continually looking over their shoulders. Allow them to do the job for which they were hired without overwhelming them. 

15. Opportunities to Innovate

You want your team members to be focused on the project. However, you should also let them take part in hackathons and similar initiatives. These activities allow our team members to work on coding outside of their typical workday. It’s a way that they can sharpen their skill set.

16. Enable Internal Feedback

Make sure that your team members feel comfortable communicating with you, giving their feedback, if they’re experiencing any problems or they have any ideas.

17. Accept and Promote Your Employee’s Ideas, and Encourage Questions

I try to implement the approach when we discuss with every employee his or her ideas whether they are related to the project or company management. If your team has questions, encourage them to speak up about that.

What Doesn’t Work for Promoting Team Motivation

1. Micromanagement

Once you assign tasks for your team members, you need to give them the freedom to work on them on their own. You hired each one of them for a reason. Now, you need to trust them to do their jobs.

2. Unnecessary Bureaucratic Structures

You want to have a clear chain of command set up with your team. However, can say from our company experience, a needlessly complicated bureaucracy isn’t going to benefit anyone.

3. Strict Policies on Coding and Project Development

Your team should have a basic knowledge of how you want things done. However, they also need to be given the freedom to create and innovate as they see fit. Try to find a balance between structure and creativity. If that doesn’t seem to be working, you can make whatever minor adjustments are necessary.

4. Strict Working Hours

For us, it’s fine to set deadlines, but not strict working hours. Moreover, if you manage distributed team when members are in different locations. It's can be difficult for everyone to start and finish at the same time. Even if you don't, programmers don’t often do well with strict working hours. Apart from the mandatory meeting, let them work according to the schedule that suits them best.

5. Over communication Tires Out Your Team

After we reduced the time spent on unnecessary meetings or calls, the satisfaction with their job raised significantly. 
I have found that these first motivational tactics work, while the others I listed do not. Every team and its leaders are going to function according to the set of rules that suits them best. This list is a fine place to start, though.
It is universal enough that it should apply to virtually every team working in the software development field.  But of course, you can customize them according to your team. 



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