There may be an “I” in business, but that doesn’t mean the solopreneur approach actually works. Any good business owner will tell you that strong businesses are built on stronger teams. Once you’ve got an A-level team supporting you, you’re practically guaranteed success in any endeavor.
If you’re looking to build—and maintain—a winning software development team, here are seven best practices that should help you out.
Cross-Train vs Specialization
There are times when cross-training your development team can work to your advantage. Some instances include short-term or last-minute projects wherein you can only afford to spare a handful of team members to handle it. In those cases, you’ll be glad for the multi-discipline capabilities of your employees.
However, specialization is still extremely important. You want to avoid having too many “jack of all trades, master of none” types on your team, as this can negatively affect productivity and output quality. Strive to find the balance, and know when one takes precedence over the other.
Provide an Open Coding Environment
An open coding environment provides a safe space for software developers that is conducive to creating and developing personal, small-scale projects. This gives your software development team the liberty to come up with their own solutions, suggestions, and personal takes on existing developments. The worst thing you could do to them is keep their creativity boxed in and force them to follow blueprints or guidelines. Allow them the freedom to code according to their style or preference.
The more involved your team is with their projects, the more in-line their final product will be with the desired output. Ergo, try to be as transparent as possible. Rather than giving them a vague outline or rough summary of the assignments, let them know the specifics i.e. what the software will be used for, what you want to achieve with it, and so on.
If the software is for a client, share the client’s details; what their business is, what they’re known for, any particular requests/preferences they mentioned, etc. The more information your team has, the more invested they’ll be, the better they can conceptualize and execute the output.
Promote Company Culture
Your software development team will work better in a safe, stress-free environment. As the owner, it’s in your best interest to make them feel comfortable and appreciated in the workplace. Doing so will improve their thought process, encourage their creativity, and magnify their desire to advance their skills. Hence, you need to create and promote a level of closeness within your company. Regardless of how you conduct your business affairs—whether formally or casually—you should be encouraging familiarity and intimacy among teams and team members.
Delegate When Able
This is related to our first point regarding cross-training and specialization. When the projects are piling up and you’re stretched thin, you should have a dedicated development head, project manager, or point person that you can delegate tasks to. This person should subsequently know the best developer to handle each delegated task. Spreading the workload to the employees specifically equipped to handle it can greatly boost productivity and the development process.
Related Content: How to Increase Productivity for Your Software Development Team
The mark of a good business may be that it can run itself without your help, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be completely hands-off. Once you have development heads and project managers that can handle running your software development team, you can take a step or two back and allow them to develop their leadership skills.
However, make sure you’re still in the loop. Request daily or weekly updates regarding the developers on your team i.e. new hires, potential workplace issues, promising employees, employees looking for career opportunities, and the like. Staying connected helps you minimize conflict and resolve tensions before they can escalate.
Let the Team Choose New Members
Lastly, when it comes to the hiring process, let your existing software development team have a say regarding potential new employees. After all, they’re the ones who’ll be working with this person for the conceivable future.
You don’t have to let them veto your choices or give them the final say, but you should request—and respect—their input and opinions. If there’s a potential candidate that they don’t feel comfortable with from the get-go, talk about it rather than dismissing their concerns entirely. Your software development team is a huge asset to your company. Treat them as such if you want them to stick around.