If you ever wonder how to engage software developers to ensure their high productivity, it’s time to ask yourself whether you have effective processes in place to keep engineers happy and motivated at work. As a manager who is leading software development teams, you must be facing a number of challenges regarding training, rotating and retaining software developers. And the easiest way to manage your talent pool is to follow existing best practices that are often overlooked. Below we have gathered seven essentials of managing software developers every successful software engineering manager should know about.
Every successful CTO has a detailed competency map
To manage an engineering organization successfully, it is important to bring knowledge available in a company to the surface. By designing a competency map, a manager has a complete picture of the present expertise and is aware of the team’s weak areas. A competency map offers insights into skills grids of each engineer. Therefore, it is easier to build a team, find a project for a qualified developer on the bench, define what specific skills to train, etc.
For example, when you need certain expertise, you can check your competency map that visualizes data gathered to find out which person in a company has that skill. In such a way, setting up and scaling a software development team turns out to be a much easier process. Also, a manager gets a better understanding of how many people with what competencies to hire and engineers are provided with relevant learning opportunities.
Effective managers care about professional development of their employees
To retain the company’s engineering talent, it is important to give programmers the opportunity to control and manage their career development. This is exactly what most Millenials value, especially those who support do-it-yourself career development. They want to keep track of their professional progress and build their career on their own.
The role of a software engineering manager is to help developers design their own professional development plans (PDPs) that will open a variety of learning and career opportunities. This process can be initiated by an HR specialist and driven by a developer. It is essential for programmers to have a clear vision of their career path.
On the other hand, managers are also aware of the directions their engineers want to develop in – either vertically or horizontally. They can get prepared for the rotation process of an engineer and spare the time to find somebody else instead. What’s more, this way managers ensure that software developers won’t leave the company and look for learning opportunities somewhere else.
Professional software engineering managers initiate leadership programs
Successful engineering managers know that effective leadership training helps retain software developers, improve their performance, and increase return on investment. Nonetheless, very often many of them still invest heavily in the technical education of IT specialists instead of empowering leadership and self-organization at all levels. This leads to career stagnation and high turnover rates among engineers.
To solve these problems, managers should put more emphasis on leadership development. Launching leadership programs can help IT specialists at all levels master new skills to get promoted to a tech lead, a project manager, a business analyst or an architect. It’s not a secret that it is always easier to groom and promote your software engineer to a different position he or she is interested in than hire and train a new specialist.
Experienced engineering managers are good mentors
Great engineering managers are also efficient coaches who act as mentors motivating employees to develop new skills. They provide developers with appropriate resources, training, and assignments. They are good at coaching a new hire as well as training a high-achieving team member.
However, as a study by the Society for Human Resource Management states, 93% of managers believe they lack the training and skills necessary to coach their employees. This means that the majority of managers feel they fall short of core coaching skills such as active listening, empathy, delegation, delivering constructive feedback, etc. That’s why 70% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring as part of their talent and organizational development. Their mentoring programs focus on coaching employees as well as training professional mentors.
Good CTOs empower engineers to take initiatives
Good managers emphasize self-organization in order to accomplish tasks and empower engineers to be creative and take on more risks. When it comes to daily decisions, experienced managers delegate responsibility. They encourage software developers to take ownership and get things done without waiting for permission.
What concerns important decisions, great engineering managers always involve the team in discussions and ask for their professional opinion. They always rely on the team’s expertise and experience in the final decision making. In contrast to the top-down management, where the leader says what to do, modern engineering managers prefer adhocracy, where software developers take initiative and act under their authority.
Successful managers have a positive working attitude
Good engineering managers try to keep a positive mindset even though they always have a lot on their plate. This way, they show everyone around that they are easy-going and approachable. If engineers know that they can come up to a manager and talk about their problems any time they need, it becomes easier for a manager to build trustful relationships with team members. It also helps reduce the stress level and improve the team’s environment and well-being.
According to the research by Harvard Business Review, most senior executives lack empathy. However, building the foundation of trust, respect and positive attitudes among developers is important. Thus, to achieve success in leading software development teams, engineering managers master and incorporate emotional intelligence practices into their work. They learn how to give difficult feedback, resolve conflicts, mitigate risks and forge tight connections with their engineers.
The main task of an engineering manager is to build a healthy working environment where programmers can develop professional and leadership skills, realize their initiatives, and follow their ambitions. Once you apply all of the aforementioned tips, you will reap tangible results in the long run.
Marta Hlova is a creative Content Marketing Manager who works with N-iX to help businesses implement technology transformations. Marta believes that success comes to those who hustle and are always looking to learn new things.