As a leader or manager of a programming team, you’ll be responsible for helping your team members do their best work. Usually, that means completing projects well within the deadlines set for them and still prioritizing product quality.
You can start by hiring the right people for your team; vet your candidates carefully, and ensure you’re only adding skilled, experienced coders who are self-motivated and passionate about their work. But beyond that, what steps can you take to boost the productivity of your programming team?
You can start by making environmental changes:
- Hardware and software. Your programmers won’t be able to reach their full potential unless they have access to the tools that allow them to do so. Make sure all your team members have the devices and the programs they need to do their best work. If you’re not sure whether they have everything they need, ask.
- Office aesthetics. You’d be surprised how much you can boost productivity by improving the aesthetics of the office. For example, installing a fireplace can instantly make your office seem cozier and more inviting—and can keep people nice and warm in winter. You can also boost productivity by allowing in more natural light, investing in plants, hanging art, and making other aesthetic changes.
- Furniture. Too many people underestimate the role that furniture can have on the productivity of an employee. A solid desk with plenty of room and an ergonomic chair with ample back support can keep employees focused longer, and keep them happier in their positions—not to mention, less susceptible to injury.
Rewards and Incentives
Intrinsic motivation is arguably more powerful than extrinsic motivation; your programmers will work harder if they’re self-motivated than if you try to motivate them with extrinsic rewards. That said, a solid reward and incentive structure can help push them even further.
- Bonuses. Offer a bonus for jobs exceptionally well done. For example, you can throw a $100 bonus at the first person who solves a notorious problem or completes their respective tasks.
- Raises. At the end of the year, review the performance of your employees, and if they’ve done a good job, improving along the way, give them a raise.
- Extra privileges. If you can’t afford bonuses or raises, at least consider conferring additional privileges—such as providing a designated parking space.
Operations and Culture
Finally, consider making changes to your operational strategy and work culture:
- Establish good communication habits. Communication can make or break your productivity strategy. Make sure tasks and bugs are being written up completely and with full details, and have regular meetings to ensure everyone on your team is on the same page.
Communication must be established from the top down; your leaders, managers, and supervisors should all be practicing consistently good communication habits and encouraging your employees to do the same.
- Allow flexible hours. Consider allowing your employees to work flexible hours unless you genuinely need them to collaborate in real-time. Flexible hours allow employees to work during the time periods when they’re most productive; for some people, this is the early morning, but for others, peak productivity doesn’t kick in until much later in the day.
Additionally, flexible hours give people time to handle personal responsibilities, so they’re undistracted while they are working.
- Encourage automation. Empower your employees to automate whatever they can. Automating simple tasks means they’ll have more time and energy to devote to the problems that really matter. It also has the power to reduce stress and improve morale.
- Provide education and training. Most programmers are eager to continuously refine their skills, relying on ongoing education and training so they’re always up-to-date with the latest standards.
Consider providing them with mentorship, books, courses, and in-house training so they feel encouraged to pursue this. Plus, your employees will see this as an additional benefit of working for you, and they’ll be more likely to stick with you long-term.
- Optimize for individuals. Not everyone responds to the same productivity strategies equally well. If you want to see the best results, you need to optimize your tactics for the individuals on your team. Learn the strengths, weaknesses, and preferences of every member on your team, and adjust your approaches accordingly.
- Collect feedback. Finally, collect feedback from your programmers. What do they like about your management style? What aspects of your business would benefit from improvement? Take this feedback seriously, and use it as a launch point to develop new strategies and make new changes.
There’s no surefire way to boost the productivity of an entire programming team, but with these strategies, you should be able to make a meaningful difference. Remain adaptable, and change up your tactics as needed to get the best possible results.