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10 Feb 2020 16 min to read

Motivating Software Engineers – 10 Ways to Motivate Dev Team

Software development is one of the most important and profitable areas of business nowadays. With new apps and other types of software coming out left and right at all times, it’s no wonder that more people decide to work in this industry. And make no mistake – this is an exciting field to work in, as many team members will share similar interests and a sense of purpose in their career pursuits. Nevertheless, the industry is very competitive, which may lead to burnout, which is simply another word for a loss of motivation.

  • Your skills as a team leader are crucial in keeping spirits up and maintaining your team’s productivity. Today we present ten methods to motivate Software Engineers and Dev teams.
  • You will learn how to ensure that your team is ready and raring to go in all the ways that matter.

As a dev team leader, a lot of the responsibility for keeping your team’s motivation up is left up to you. While this might seem like a simple task, since motivational factors are not hard to find, it’s important to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. It’s the former – intrinsic motivation, which is the form of motivation that comes from within – that you want to nurture. What this means is that a team member that has an internal drive to work on a project because of their love for programing will work better than one that is simply in it for the paycheck. Here are ten methods for you to ensure that your team is ready and raring to go in all the ways that matter.

 

1. Make sure all the pieces are in order

There’s one thing about the intrinsic motivation that needs to be made clear right at the beginning: motivation can be nurtured, but it cannot be created out of anything. So before you think about how you can raise motivation levels within your team, you have to make sure you have a solid, capable crew of developers that can take on any challenge. The effects on motivation don’t end there, as members that drag the team down in terms of their lack of skill or failure to meet expectations, can end up causing the rest of your team to lose steam. Choosing your team carefully thus becomes paramount.

 

2. Keeping spirits high

Once you’ve got your team of reliable experts assembled, your task is to make sure that they have the right conditions to thrive. While there are several benefits to stress, there is more than enough of it within the life of a developer as it is, so there’s no need for you to cause more of it. To make sure those stress levels remain sustainable, you’ll need to have a lot of patience and empathy, so that you can prevent conflicts before they escalate. Make sure everyone is comfortable in their work environment to ensure productivity.

 

3. Encourage healthy communication

The language you use within the dev team environment can have a profound effect on motivation. If your language becomes too controlling, e.g. you use words like “should” or “must” a lot, you run the risk of the dev becoming more stressed and more disheartened as a result. What’s more, do keep in mind that the language you use as a leader will be echoed by the rest of the team to a certain degree, so if you’re losing language that is detrimental to the team’s overall motivation, there’s a good chance this will be further reinforced by others. Instead, consider asking questions. This will encourage your teammates to communicate more and make them feel more like they’re fully-fledged team members, raising their motivation.

 

4. Appreciate ideas

Motivated developers have a lot to say – don’t miss that! While you need a clear vision for where your project is going, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open from new ideas from the others. Two heads are better than one, and you might find that your dev team has a couple of good ideas that will make your project run more smoothly. On top of that, the fact that you notice these ideas is bound to make them feel more appreciated, boosting their motivation further.

 

5. Get everyone on the same page

Nothing is quite the motivation killer is a lack of clear direction. If your dev team is working on a project that they have no idea is heading towards, they will not be working at their best. Everyone will have a different vision of the end goal, causing plenty of chaos and confusion, which will result in poorer productivity. Once again, communication becomes key. Make sure everyone knows where the project is heading and keep them updated whenever something changes.

 

6. Be a good example

As we’ve already mentioned at the beginning, low motivation can be contagious, but no one’s level of motivation is more contagious than that of the leader. If the team can tell that the leader is into the project, they’ll be more eager to bring out their best. Conversely, if the team can tell that you are not pulling your weight, they will remember that, and they might even turn against you.

 

7. Forge relationships

You can’t ensure that your team works to its full potential if you don’t know them from Adam. Make sure that you make the effort to make connections with all your teammates. This will allow you to learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and through playing to their strengths, you will make their work more satisfying to them. Additionally, it’s much more rewarding to work with people you know instead of being surrounded by strangers.

Keeping your team in good spirits is one of the most important factors to make sure your organization is in a healthy condition. How to make that happen? I believe that the answer is pretty straightforward – just talk to people you work with. To make that discussion productive you can go through the following topics:

1. Does that team member know her/his career path? What goals need to be achieved, what skills must she/he possess to be engaged in more challenging projects or to get a raise and – yes, people want those things but they also need to now that nothing comes for free, it’s a transaction – they give to receive.

2. If I said ‘challenges’ let’s say more about it – people don’t want to sit and do boring stuff. Of course, more often than anyone would like to admit, companies also do boring stuff as it brings money. But be sure to balance it.

3. And even if it’s interesting and challenging stuff but someone’s been working on it for more than a year make sure to switch her/him to take care of some other things too. People tend to get burnout even on the most disrupting projects.

These are just a couple of hints but the most important one is to listen and react accordingly.

Paweł Jackowski, CEO ASPER BROTHERS

8. Credit where credit is due

Praise can have a tremendous impact on your employee’s motivation. With carefully chosen words that will show them that you truly appreciate their efforts and talents and how they help drive the project further, you can give your developers a big boost in their confidence, resulting in better motivation to be productive.

 

9. Make the process fulfilling and educational

You can’t expect your dev team to be fully productive if they aren’t challenged in any way. We’re not talking about putting on a larger workload to increase stress levels here – what you need to do is set specific goals that will get fulfilled by them regularly. They need to be challenging but still challenging. That way, they’ll get the feeling that they are learning something new, making them much more motivated to keep going forward.

 

10. Forget about expected external rewards

Our final tip is one that may feel counterproductive: expected external rewards are a detriment to motivation. Software development is an incredibly demanding field that requires a lot of creativity. However, numerous studies have found that a focus on meeting specific goals to gain raises is linked to declining creativity. On an external level, it motivates, but it kills intrinsic motivation as the goal overtakes the joy of the whole process. Appreciate your team members, but don’t make them chase external gains when they could instead be focusing on the excitement involved with your project.

Motivate Team FAQ

How to motivate a team of engineers?

There is no single solution. Treat everyone individually, appreciate the work, be honest and fair. It is certainly important for your team to feel that they are working on interesting projects and developing their skills all the time.

What is important for a programmers?

Most programmers make good money. But when we ask them what motivates them most - often they will answer- interesting projects and the feeling that their work really changes something.

How much should a programmer earn to feel appreciated?

It depends on the language in which he specializes and the company. First of all, a programmer should feel that is important for the company and his employer pays him adequately.

Conclusion

Motivation can make the difference between an incredibly productive team and one that’s failing to meet expectations. As much as this depends on the individual team members, your skills as a team leader will be crucial in keeping spirits up and maintaining your team’s productivity. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to make the true, intrinsic motivation skyrocket.

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You have all the tools you need at your disposal – learn how to use them well and watch your team reach its true potential. We would be happy to hear about your experiences and methods. Please, leave us a comment!

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