Developing software is a pretty difficult process and the path to successful delivery can be complex, frustrating, and, as the delivery deadline approaches, quite stressful.
Throw in a pandemic to upend your modus operandi and ‘hey presto!’ you have the perfect ingredients to deflate your team.
So how do you keep your teams motivated? I wanted to highlight some of the ways we try to achieve that at FanFinders and, whilst this is based on motivating our tech team, there’s nothing stopping you from applying these fundamentals elsewhere in your business.
1. Foster a positive atmosphere
Your teams are going to face difficulties and challenges throughout the development process, and your job is to remind them that it’s not the end of the world, it’s just real life. We’re a team of resourceful individuals and together, we can solve this.
2. Build a team
Teams don’t build themselves. You might get the odd occasion where a group of individuals immediately gel but relying on it happening organically isn’t an effective strategy, nor is just saying ‘we’re all a team here’ and leaving it at that.
Because our devs at FanFinders are all working remotely (as many are recently due to Covid-19) and, whilst that does present more challenges than if everyone was in the office, it doesn’t mean we can’t build a team. We have our morning standup obviously but every Friday at 4:30, we all jump on a call and discuss what we’ve got planned for the weekend. It’s a nice wind down to a busy working week.
We do lots of little things like that and they all add up. In short, be proactive in building your team, it won’t happen by itself.
3. Manage the process, not every task
I’ve worked under many managers in my time, some good, some bad, but what I can say for sure is that micromanagement is a great way to p*ss off your staff.
Trust your staff’s capabilities but ensure you’re there if they need your help. Make sure your processes are lean and impediments are resolved quickly. Concentrate your efforts on setting them on the right path, clear that path of obstacles and then let them get on with it.
Simplicity is underrated in my humble opinion. To me, simplicity has an inherent beauty that reaps so many unexpected rewards.
Keep your processes as simple as you can and don’t introduce unnecessary bureaucracy.
Similarly, keep your solutions to technical challenges as simple as you can: you’ll benefit when it comes to the maintenance part of a system’s lifespan.
I often hear the phrase ‘trust needs to be earned. This may be true, but I’m also a strong believer in trust being something implicit, whether it’s a new team member on their first day or a seasoned developer who’s been with us for 10 years.
All of our team work from home and not for one moment do I feel the need to call them to check they’re there. Our process gives us many ways to track progress and if an individual isn’t delivering, it’s easy to spot and rectify.
6. Don’t punish failure
Failure is a natural part of life and is inevitable, even with the best processes and training. I’m not talking about repetitive failure here, just the individual one-offs.
Don’t punish these, use them as a learning tool and help the individual realize the ‘what, where and when’ of the failure and how to avoid it in the future.
Whenever a member of your team contributes significantly to a specific success, let them know. Don’t just let the individual know, let the rest of the business know. Everyone needs their day in the sun.
8. Stack up
Keep your tech stack fresh and up to date. The company will benefit and your staff will be eager to learn new skills.
9. And most important?
Treat your staff with respect, listen to them, embrace their feedback and actively help when they call out. If you’re having a bad day, there’s no need to share it, swallow it and be nice.
If you need your staff to rally when there’s a crisis and they respect you, they’ll be there for you just as you were for them, bayonets at the ready. I guarantee it.