With Pulp Blog

How to Motivate Software Developers: 6 Principles From a Software Development Studio

Sarah Harris May 20, 2021

Over the years, we’ve developed over 20 large-scale enterprise software development projects and countless small business projects. All of these projects have given us a lot of experience in working with web and software developers.

We’ve learned that being mindful of the ways that developers work best is something that requires immense focus. We absolutely love our developers; they’re the lifeblood of our business. As such, we always strive to create a motivational and enjoyable work environment for them.

Today’s post is a work-in-progress that aims to capture what we currently know about the things that work best for us to motivate software developers.

#1. Give Developers Autonomy

This motivation tip is ranked number one for a reason: The biggest thing we’ve learned about developers is that they want the freedom to make their own decisions.

As long as the project allows for it, this means letting developers pick the technologies they prefer, such as coding languages and frameworks, and allowing them to use any tools they like.

Beyond the tech stack, you can motivate software developers by giving them the option to choose where and when they work.

Working remotely is extremely helpful for many developers as it lets them be in their creative headspace while they’re working. It also enables them to work at whatever time is best for them. For some developers, this might be late at night.

#2. No meetings

Meetings are absolutely the death of productivity, and developers are extremely productive by nature.

Developers create products that scale, and they automate as much as possible, which requires a ton of focus.

When you make developers attend meetings they don't need to be a part of, it takes away time that could be better spent focused on crafting the next amazing product or writing the next outstanding line of code.

And on a similar note..

#3. Give Developers Collaborative Freedom

Every developer has their own preference for collaboration. Let them choose what they want to use.

Don’t enforce a mandatory structure of video or phone calls. Instead, let your developers choose the communication style that they prefer. This could mean communicating primarily in text, video, audio, or (most likely) a mix of all of the above.

Developers will likely have a preference between synchronous and asynchronous communication, so let them use the tools they like.

They’ll also tend to have a preference for certain communication methods based on the urgency of the topic. If they just want to nudge another department to complete a specific task, they’ll go for asynchronous communication. However, if they are in urgent need of missing details from the design team, they might opt for synchronous communication.

Ultimately, the more flexibility that your developers have, the more productive they will be.

#4. Be Realistic

Software development isn’t easy. It’s extremely difficult to estimate how long something will take to build. Problems arise and something that seems simple might end up being more difficult once work begins.

Go easy on your developers when there are delays. Most developers are their worst critics; they don’t need you to add in pressure. If a developer misses a deadline, they will likely already be feeling stress on their own.

Keep in mind that software development is complicated. Getting a project to a certain milestone might require more iterations than initially planned. Sometimes, a developer needs more testing to get everything right.

#5. Encourage Connection Mindfully

You can motivate software developers by giving them the freedom to connect with others on their own.

Most software developers like to get things done by themselves. They’re also extremely focused on their work. You should never forcefully push a developer to collaborate with others.

On the other hand, developers can often be quite social and even enjoy collaborating. Make sure they know who is on the team and encourage them to share ideas with each other.

Let your developers decide how they’d like to collaborate and who they’d like to collaborate with.

When they’ve reached out to other developers and they’re starting to work together, this is where the real magic happens. Productivity will increase, new ideas will start flowing, and the entire project will flourish. None of this will happen if you force collaboration.

#6. Encourage Ideas and Experimentation

One of the best ways to motivate software developers is to let them share ideas and experiment with new things.

Software developers are full of ideas, which is partially why they try to automate so much of their workflow. Let your developers know that they can chase their ideas, try things out, and build new things.

Even if you don’t see the value of experimentation immediately, it’s still a powerful motivator for a software developer. You never know what they might come up with that you can work into existing digital products.

With Pulp is a development studio that specializes in building web and mobile applications. Contact us for a free consultation on your next project.