Software developers are a different breed than the rest of it, and it’s no secret that managing a growing team of software developers can be a major challenge. If your team is growing, or you’ve just brought on your first few members, it’s important to manage with a strategy and plan in place.
Management is about helping people achieve their full potential, which in turns helps the company they work for to do the same. It’s about helping people to be successful and excel in their roles, and achieve their own personal goals through the course of their work.
Managing people well requires that you take much into consideration, but there is an increased complexity when we’re talking about managing a team of software developers.
Factors to consider will include:
- Individual personalities
- Personal and career goals
- Expectations of the role and the company
- Policies and procedures
- Organizational culture
At the end of the day, you may find that each team member needs something different from you, in order to achieve their own personal version of success. Here are some tips to help you manage a team of software developers.
If you want your high-performing developers to excel, you’ve got to give them the freedom and autonomy to do so. If you expect people to create something out of nothing, you’ve got to give them the creative freedom to achieve your desired outcomes. If there is too much red tape or too many hoops to jump through, even the best developers can be completely derailed. Obviously, there will always be rules, guidelines, and designs to follow - but your developers need the confidence to know that as long as they stay within the lines, they’re free to do their work as they see fit.
All team members should be engaged with the company as a whole, and your software developers are no different. If you want to keep people engaged, you’ve got to involve them and keep them in the loop. Schedule regular communication updates, where you cover things that are job-related, technical, and even personal when it makes sense. If you want to create a cohesive team, it’s important that people understand the challenges each individual team and department are dealing with. Ideally, you’ll schedule a weekly 1:1 meeting with each team member and get a pulse on the overall topics that should be discussed in your general meeting. Keep these short and to the point, and only cover things that truly matter to the overall organization.
GIVE THEM A PROCESS
Software developers prefer to be given projects with clear objectives, clear scope, defined timelines, and clarity on how advancements will be evaluated and recognized. Whatever process or method you choose to follow - be it Agile, Scrum, Rational, or something else - the most important thing here is that your developers understand what the process is and comprehend what’s expected of them, and their team members. Giving your team a lighter methodology that rewards their efforts and recognizes their projects not only keeps them happy but allows them to do their best and most efficient work.
TRAINING & CAREER DEVELOPMENT
You might feel like you’re managing a team of people who are smarter than you, but the reality is that even the best software engineers require continued training and education if they’re going to continue to excel. You always want to take into account what each individual’s career goals are as well, to ensure you’re providing the support needed to help them advance and progress. In addition to technical training to keep current on the latest and greatest, your software development team requires knowledge about the company’s policies, procedures, goals, best practices, and standards. The deeper their understanding of the company, the better their products will be. Those are 4 major areas where you need to direct attention when managing a team of software developers. With the right strategy in place, you'll be able to form a cohesive team of developers who excel in their areas of expertise.