8 Ways to Motivate Your Dev Team

Ways to motivate software developers

Learning how to motivate dev teams is not rocket science. Yet, it’s also not about giving a pat on the back as an expression of gratitude. If you want to keep your team’s spirit lifted, learn from the big leagues. For example, Google offers its developers (and all employees) benefits such as free food, nap pods, cooking classes, free laundry, rock climbing, gym membership, and other cool things. I mean, who wouldn’t be motivated by such things?

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the size of Google or the profits, so providing their employees with these things is impossible. But, that doesn’t mean that patting their backs is the only way through rewarding developers. Google does all this because when you look at the essence of these benefits, it comes down to building connection, making employees feel valued and cared for, encouraging creativity, etc. Not just to give things for free! So don’t get depressed that you can’t give your team free food all the time or gym memberships. There are still many ways to motivate software developers (and most of them don’t cost you a single penny). 

How to Motivate Your Dev Team

Is motivating employees that important? Isn’t the salary enough? 

Facts speak louder than words, so check out these statistics regarding employee engagement and motivation: 

  • Highly motivated teams increase business profitability by 21%.
  • Engaged employees perform 20% better.
  • Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies.

When developers feel motivated and happy with their company, they have higher energy and are able to improve their performance.

If you’re wondering what motivates developers, you’re in the right place. As a boutique IT recruitment agency, we know developers like the palm of our hands, and we know exactly what bait to use to attract and motivate them. 

Here are 8 ways to motivate software developers:

#1: Know Your Software Engineers & Dev Team

Imagine it’s your company’s anniversary and to thank all your employees you decide to send all of them a box of chocolate. It sounds amazing, but 1) Not everyone loves chocolate (yes, hard to believe, but it happens) and 2) Some people love it but are allergic.

Although the gesture is nice, to truly motivate your team, you need to make time to get to know each person in it. You can’t motivate a team when you have no idea what they like or dislike – and this is not even about the gifts.

Motivating a team of software engineers & developers is also about establishing the right workflow that works for all of them. For instance, if all your team of software developers hates having calls every day because they feel it interrupts their work, change it. Instead of 5 days a week, cut it down to one day a week! 

#2: Get Rid of the Asshole Culture

We all hate people that say one thing and act the opposite way. Sadly, many managers are like that. They give beautiful speeches regarding the power of mistakes, but they completely forget about it when they get back to work.

In the book Surviving Remote Work – written by Sharon Koifman, DistantJob’s President – Sharon talks about the importance of getting rid of the asshole culture. Why? Because it affects your company and its values. According to a British study mentioned in the book, when managers were assholes to their employees, most of them got stressed, and eventually, the turnover rate increased.

In the IT industry, known to be extremely competitive, having new ideas and being creative is highly valued. However, if you encourage the asshole culture in your company, many employees not only will quit but the ones left will be scared to share their ideas. 

#3: Reward Them

If you have kids, you probably have used the reward system with them. Maybe they hated making their bed, so you got into an agreement that if they made the bed and kept their room clean, you would give them a chocolate bar. Instead of scolding them, they have an incentive that, at the same time, helps them create a habit.

Grown-ups are the same – they need incentives to get motivated. If you’re wondering how to motivate developers to stay on board until their project is finished, the answer is simple: reward them.

Let’s say you have to build a software application for a client, so you need several crucial steps to make the app successful. And to keep your team motivated, you can give them small incentives. For example, if they finish working on an important task and do it successfully, they can leave work earlier on Friday. Or you can plan out a gaming night or any other fun activity to do as a group! 

Even a simple ‘’you’re doing a great job’’ can have a tremendous impact on your team.

#4: Establish Clear Goals and Plans

It doesn’t matter if your software development team is big or small; you always need a plan to achieve your goals.

Many methodologies can help you trace a path for your team. For Instance, the Agile methodology helps teams develop a product through cycles of iterations. On the other hand, Kanban consists more in visualizing how the project is moving forward (or if it’s stuck). 

Other useful SDLC models help team members define their roles and know precisely how the project is going. In software projects where tasks are more complex, having a plan helps team members to focus on one thing at a time instead of trying to solve everything simultaneously.

#5: Create Growth Opportunities

We all know that cars need gasoline to function (let’s omit Tesla and all-electric cars). A developer’s gasoline are growth opportunities. To provide the same results in a long-time framework, they need to know they won’t be stuck coding their entire lives. Some might enjoy it, but others want to become leaders of an organization or perform a different role.

So, what motivates developers besides rewards and feeling valued is to have the opportunity to grow in an organization. This isn’t overnight, but if your team knows that if they work hard and keep providing quality work, they have the growth opportunities that will increase their engagement rates.

Why? Because they will be working not for the short term but the long term. They know that if they push themselves, they eventually can become leaders, so part of their obligation is to keep delivering results to make that happen. 

#6: Don’t go Easy on Them – Create Challenges

Creativity is essential for innovation, and the best way to encourage both creativity and innovation is to create challenges.

Software developers love getting challenged because they can test their skills and push their boundaries. So, if you’re looking to motivate your team, keep challenging them. Instead of boring them with the same tasks or having an extremely structured plan, you could encourage them to find out new ways of solving problems.

Planification matters, but if you don’t give your team space to change things up and improve them, they will feel they are never heard.  Challenging them allows them to try new ideas and, overall, to think outside the box. It’s also the perfect opportunity for some of them to show their talent or other hidden skills they might have.

#7: Get Rid of the What and Embrace the Why

Simon Sinek discovered why some leaders were able to succeed and inspire while others not. In his book Start with Why he reveals the golden circle theory. This theory explains that most businesses, when selling their products, start with what they sell, then move to the how and lastly to the why.

However, the key to success is to do it backward. When businesses transmit their why first, people are mesmerized with a belief instead of the product itself. They’re going to buy your product/service because they believe in what you believe.

Although your goal is to sell your company’s product or service, apply this same principle to your team. Instead of starting with what you do, remind them the why.

Why is their job important? Why making that application [or any other platform] matters?

When your team believes in what they sell, they have a deeper sense of purpose that motivates them to do a better job. 

#8: Offer Flexibility

As humans, we are all diverse. And when it comes to working, some people love working at 6 am, others at 3 am, others at 5 pm, etc. We all have the 9-5 schedule stuck in our heads, but not because it works but because it’s been that way for years.

And poor management practices sometimes even take working schedules to a whole new level making their devs work late hours. Instead of making your developers sleep-deprived, one of the best strategies is to apply flexible arrangements.

Some developers are incredibly productive at night, so why not let them do their tasks while they have full energy? That way, they not only feel trusted, but they are more confident that they can do a better job.

One of the most significant benefits of hiring remote developers is that they can work in a more flexible environment. This encourages them to work and get things done at the hours they are more productive, keeping in mind due-dates. 

Last Piece of Advice to Motivate Software Developers

It all comes down to one simple thing: Care about your team. It sounds easy, but it’s what most managers often forget doing. They spend their days giving tasks, feedback, corrections but forget about what’s essential: making each team member feel valued for the job they are doing. 

When you genuinely care about your team, things are easier. You know you can give negative feedback without them taking it the wrong way or push their boundaries because you trust their potential. 

And caring about your team is much easier if you hire the right people to be part of it. If you’re struggling to scale your IT team, contact us! We can help you find and hire talented remote software developers in no time. 

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Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina

Gabriela Molina is the writer and executive editor of the DistantJob blog. As a former freelance journalist, she has covered a wide range of topics throughout her career. She was featured in Datasciencentral, Simpleprogrammer, to name a few. She is currently specializing in the areas of technology, leadership, and remote work.