How to Manage and Motivate Software Developers?

23 Jul, 2015
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In the book, “How To Keep Your Best Programmers”, Erik Dietrich writes, “Humans are not motivated economically toward self-actualization (as widely believed) but are instead driven by these three motivating factors: the desire to control one’s own work, the desire to get better at things, and the desire to work toward some goal beyond showing up for 40 hours per week and collecting a paycheck.”

Hiring a great development team lays the ultimate foundation for long term product success. But as software companies around the world are fully aware, the war to manage and motivate software developers is getting hotter than ever. Hiring and retaining software developers has become an onerous task. Not only do software developers command high salaries, but they want to work with new technologies, they want to constantly expand their skillset and competitors are constantly trying to woo them with better deals. So, how do you keep your top software development talent from walking out the door?

Organizations and their management teams struggle to understand what exactly their star talent wants. And when they fail to do so, they resort to offering perks and advantages that have no impact on convincing their employees to stay.

But, that’s where the real issue most likely begins. Software companies are falling in the trap of searching for strategies, tips and tricks to get their favorite developers to stay. However, the actual answer may be much more straightforward. Instead of getting bogged down by preconceived notions of what a developer may or may not want, software companies should instead understand that it is meritocracy and not superficial benefits that work in the long run.

There are 6 key misconceptions that ISVs across the world seem to hold steadfastly too, that wrecks their retention strategy:

  • Software developers are just interested in financial incentives and nothing else.
  • Developers don’t need mentors. A software developer’s productivity is enhanced when he/she is made to work in a silo.
  • Developers want promotions that are tied to tenure, rather than merit.
  • A developers’ efficiency can be maximized by exercising control and offering as little creative freedom as possible.
  • Sending developers to educational or networking conferences will make them more valuable and hence, harder to retain.
  • A software developer’s personal goal has no connection with organizational goals.

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Ankita Katuri
Software engineer at coMakeIT

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