How to build an exceptional team of developers?
Using our more than 9 years’ experience in IT development services, this article will provide you with the basic keys for understanding how to properly prepare and configure a truly amazing development team. While the article refers specifically to a development team, the ideas can be applied to many other team types.
Before we dive into what makes an amazing developer team, let’s define what the ideal team of developers is for us. You should ask yourself this question. One person’s ideal team is not necessarily ideal for everyone.
Bocasay’s definition of the ideal team of developers
At Bocasay, we believe that a team of developers is exemplary when it displays the following characteristics:
- The developers are competent enough to solve the majority of problems that presented to them.
- Developers have both high-level technical skills, as well as interpersonal skills that can foster good teamwork and communication both within the team and to project stakeholders.
- Team members don’t need to be constantly supervised or micromanaged. They work autonomously and know how to implement the following methodologies: Scrum, Scrumban, Kanban, Lean Management etc.
- The team knows when to ask for help.
- The team complete its tasks within a reasonable amount of time.
Seeking the best developers is good, but having the best developer team is better
As a result of the “battle” for talent in IT, and the continuing acceleration of demand for IT development, developer profiles are in great demand. You often hear recruiters and business owners saying things like: I’m looking for the best developer, a star.”
The best of the best developers are in extremely high demand, and are becoming scarce, limited resources. And while it’s definitely important when working on complex software to have a highly qualified developer on your team, we’d argue that it is the level of the team as a whole that better defines how successful it will.
So, before struggling at all costs to find that rare gem, keep in mind that the best developer will not amount to much if they are not on the “right” team.
How to build the best team of developers?
Hire developers who:
- Are good enough for your project.
- Have a willingness to learn.
- Have a drive for improvement and are ambitious.
Ultimately, building an exceptional team is a two-way street:
- The team leader must give each team member every opportunity to learn and progress.
- The team members should do their best to solve problems, raise questions, train themselves and be team players.
If you put genius developers aside, a developer becomes an exceptional developer when they’ve had the opportunity to thrive where others have not, because they’ve been nurtured and guided according to their unique profile.
We’ll expand on this in more detail later on in this article.
Here are the different gauges that need to be constantly monitored and stimulated in order to keep your developer team at the top level:
- Their level of training.
- Their degree of motivation.
- Their level of responsibility.
Maintain uninterrupted training
It is each team manager’s responsibility to provide their team members with ongoing training. This can be in the form of online lessons or training sessions, or allowing team members to spend time learning independently through online tutorials, YouTube, or downloading sample code.
Taking the time to find new and better ways to solve problems has huge benefits; the final development product will be higher quality, more effective and more resistant. And the developer team members will have acquired new skills that they can apply to their future development projects.
Regularly assess the motivation
Do the developer team members like their work?
Do they feel good being on the team?
Are they actively participating in meetings?
How do they spend their days at the office?
These are questions managers need to be constantly asking themselves.
When a developer isn’t participating, that can be a warning sign. Maybe they are unmotivated, unhappy, or just don’t understand a problem and choose to remain silent rather than ask about it. In any case, it’s essential to tackle the issue when it’s detected, and to find its source. It may be a lack of training. Indeed, it’s important to avoid allowing a lack of understanding to generate a loss of confidence, a shutdown of communication, and ultimately, a loss of motivation.
The right level of responsibility for the right person
Developers are great when given responsibility. Yes, some may not be up to the task, but some can also excel. When the right developer is made responsible for a component of a product, they will make it their mission to ensure that it works properly and to actively seek improvements.
Let the developers take ownership of what they produce: this will keep your team engaged and help build its confidence, cohesion and motivation.
But beware a caveat: not everyone appreciates having important responsibilities. Take a good look at the profile of each developer on your team and, depending on what their preferences are, provide them with correspondingly more or less important responsibilities. Not everyone thrives with responsibilities.
Implementing change in a team of developers
What to do when faced with a team that’s resistant to change, even if it’s necessary for the sustainability or success of the team and the project.
It’s simple: give them a reason to do it. A reason that makes sense to them. Make them feel the need to change.
Book a meeting room, bring some snacks and create a relaxed atmosphere. Remember, this is about changing the way the team works – not having an in-depth discussion of the architecture of the system.
Explain and demonstrate the changes that need to be implemented, and allow the team to ask questions and challenge these new ideas. They should feel that at least part of the idea came from themselves rather than having been forced on them.
On the way to the extraordinary developer teams
Remember that a team is a team, not just a group of people gathered together to accomplish given tasks. Team leader, leader, Scrum Master… without these essential roles, a team can lack focus and drive.
Remember: look for the right mix of responsibilities, training and structure, and have confidence in your team’s success. These are aspects we always keep in mind when building developer teams for companies.