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How to Manage and Motivate a Software Development Team?

Sep 22, 20226 min read

Miłosz Kaczorowski

Co-founder at Ideamotive. Technological advisor and software consultant.

How to Manage and Motivate a Software Development Team

As a  product owner or an individual leading a software team, you always strive to look for answers to some of the main questions on your mind, which most likely include how to manage a software development team. How can I lead my development team to attain outstanding results? How can we sustain such seemingly dreamy results? 


These questions are vital if you manage or build a product company because a software development team is at the core of your success. And you definitely want to hire the right talent, but you also want to keep them motivated. Whether you adopt an agile structure or a traditional structure for your development team, either way, properly managing and motivating your team would be at the top of your mind. 


In this article, you will learn about proven techniques on how to manage a software development team and keep them motivated to achieve and sustain great results for your company in our fast-evolving, tech-driven world. Read on.

Why is MOTIVATION important?

Motivation can be the difference between a highly productive team and one that falls short of expectations. While the strengths of individual team members are essential, your skills as a team leader or product owner will be critical in keeping spirits high and productive. Fortunately, you can employ systems to boost genuine, intrinsic motivation.

6 Techniques on how to manage your software development team and keep them motivated

6 techniques to manage and motivate your software development team

Millennials currently make up the majority of the global workforce, and the proportion is even higher in technological firms. Which has caused a shift in the conversation about what people want from their jobs, and we've arrived at a point where mild-to-moderate pampering is anticipated as a routine aspect of the job: fully stocked bars, catered lunches, and the occasional team vacation. These generous, borderline opulent bonuses have gradually become the norm, not the exception, at both startups and large corporations.


Do all these get the intended results, or do these incentives miss the mark when it comes to how to manage a software development team or motivate your tech team?


The fact that there are over 100 theories of motivation and management suggests that no single idea accurately describes how people are motivated and managed. Each hypothesis best adds to our understanding of a tremendously complex subject. 


But not to worry, the strategies given below are focused on creating the right atmosphere conditioned on your team's needs and will help improve results across your team. Now let's look at some core techniques that, when adapted to your company's needs, will help motivate the development team and answer your question, how to manage a software development team? Please read on.

1. Help your team see the big picture 

Managers can nurture intrinsic motivation in team members. Nurturing motivation in your team must be first on your list. Ensure your technical team understands the big picture, including where you're going, what you offer, and how you affect people's online behavior. 


I've discovered that software development teams are happiest when their products are used and valued by customers. As individuals, when we consistently receive feedback from actual customers, even if it is occasionally unfavorable, our sense of ownership is at its highest. It is crucial that your employees see the vision ahead, and they won't see it unless you show them the beautiful view ahead!

2. Be human

how to be more human - infographic

To be human will seem easy, but it can be surprisingly tough to sustain, and its impact is essential, as the results last the most. Your team will mirror your language and actions, so become the change you want to see in your employees; first, let us proceed with calling them teammates. Here are three sure ways to treat your team better and motivate them to be more.

Trust them

You want them to trust you, and it goes both ways. You have to trust them enough to do their jobs; can they also trust you to be true to your words? People want to see that they are contributing to the team's goals and that their contribution is visible. 

Respect them

Respect their uniqueness and diversity. Diverse teams indeed tend to get more creative and top-notch solutions. It doesn't end with being polite and courteous. It also implies listening to them.

Listen to them

You have to be people-centered, get their feedback, act on them when you can, and give feedback. Your teammates are as unique as their concerns, expectations, and needs. So, providing a listening atmosphere will help gain their respect and trust, which translates into a high-performing and self-organizing team.

3. Challenge your team

Smart people despise repetition and crave new challenges. When important questions are posed, and the team is given time to come up with solutions, ownership of the project is fostered, thus providing ample opportunities for professional development. Give your developers the chance to interact with every stack layer and experiment with numerous technologies. Before they concentrate, let them discover what they enjoy doing. Also, give them the authority to lead high-profile projects. And to ensure they can complete the task successfully, provide them with support and realistic deadlines. Additionally, encourage team members to participate in community service, write articles, and speak at open forums. They will feel fulfilled and motivated to be their best selves as a result of this.

4. Create a conducive environment for your team

ways to promote psychological safety

While getting the ideal or needed ergonomics, flexible work style, hardware, and tools are essential, providing a psychologically safe environment is very important, especially when most tech jobs are moving towards remote work. So, you have to get it right, replace blame with curiosity, and engage your software development team in decision-making and problem framing. Also, remain honest about getting their feedback.  


Ultimately, you can anticipate higher levels of engagement, increased motivation to take on challenging problems, more opportunities for learning and development, and better performance if you establish this feeling of psychological safety within your team right away.

5. Communicate effectively with your team

Your language in a development team setting can significantly impact how you manage and motivate them. Your developers may become more stressed and discouraged if your language becomes overly directive, such as when you frequently use the words such as "should" or "must." Additionally, remember that the team will somewhat mirror the language you use. If you stop using language that is harmful to the team's overall motivation, others are likely to reinforce it. Instead, think about posing questions. This will boost their motivation and encourage them to communicate more with one another. It is also important to maintain an open and easily accessible mode of communication to allow teammates to increase ownership.

6. Restructure the tech team to promote ownership

According to a Deloitte survey, 63% of millennials feel that their leadership potential is not fully realized, making them much more likely to change jobs. Reverse the trend by developing a framework for new initiatives that allows those who may not be managers to take the initiative and ownership of projects. It demonstrates your willingness to invest in the abilities of your staff while boosting their morale and dedication.


Talk about how you can reach milestones as a team to earn some benefits, such as the sales numbers the team must achieve to reach a certain level. Instill the idea that you must work for what you want. By doing this, you'll quickly discover who genuinely supports the company's mission and is merely interested in the extra incentives.


Also, try to minimize or possibly eliminate meetings behind closed doors. Nothing fosters a sense of seclusion—or feeds the rumor mill—like witnessing the same group of people whispering behind the conference room's glass walls. Promote open talks if it's not strictly confidential.

How to hire and select top developers for your company


how to hire top developers for your company

 Sourcing the right talent for your software development team can be difficult. And that's why tech platforms with marketplaces such as Ideamotive are the go-to options for recruiting tech talents, as they provide you with well-vetted and top-notch talents to help you build your dream products. 


Hiring and selecting ideal top developers to complete software development projects for your company can be challenging, so you need to take the time to select your dream team to avoid headaches, save your time and money and help you scale. The average large IT project, according to PMI.org, "runs 45% over budget, 7% over schedule, and delivers 56% less value than expected." Here are several tips to make your selection phase easier: 


1. Make a list of requirements that your vendor must meet.

If you're using tech vendors or marketplaces to select and hire tech talents for your team, you will need to come up with a list of requirements for your ideal hire. Be concise and clear before looking at different vendors for your project because your list will guide you to get the best talent for your company's needs.

2. As much as possible, do not make it a one-man show.

I understand that based on some projects' needs, it could seem like the best option to hand over such projects to a generalist. However, the fact is that a group of diverse, exceptionally talented, individual programmers who can work fine together have a greater chance of producing high-quality work. Although, if you have to hire a generalist, ensure you select and hire one with a good balance of expertise, skills, and experience.

3. Go for small skilled teams. 

Smaller teams are, in fact, more productive than larger ones and are much simpler to lead and interact with, as you will be fully informed of the situation and how things are progressing. Yet, depending on your business needs, you might have to go for bigger teams; in such cases, the best approach is to have well-structured teams with a clear communication path.

Final Thoughts

Effectively managing and motivating your software development team is paramount to your company's success and must be prioritized. The techniques in this post have shown you how to manage software development and keep them motivated. Regardless of the methods you choose to employ in your company; you need to ensure that you adopt strategies that are focused on listening to your team, challenging your team to do better, respecting your team, and fostering psychological safety, as all these add up to create an environment that allows teammates to be self-motivated as well as externally motivated.


Do this, and I can assure you that you will sustain excellent results from your software development team.

Miłosz Kaczorowski

Co-Founder of Ideamotive. Highly skilled in Ruby on Rails, JavaScript and Linux System Administration. Experienced in implementing effective web apps.

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