How to Manage a Development Team

Developers’ jobs come with unique challenges, and those problems should be met with thoughtful, tailored management techniques. If you are managing a team of programmers who is striving to support and motivate them more effectively, consider these tactics.

Speak Their Language

Imagine working for a supervisor who does not know how you spend your day, what your process is like or what challenges you overcome to accomplish tasks. That is the reality for many programmers. Many applications development managers without backgrounds in coding have little to no context for their team members’ struggles and don’t understand their day-to-day activities.

Overseeing web applications development requires a commitment to learning your team’s craft at a high level. This may mean shadowing them, taking an online coding class or devoting time to other forms of continuing education. However you do it, make progress soon. Your understanding of their daily activities is critical to building a relationship based on trust.

Don’t Compromise Quality

Development is a very personal job. Similar to writing or other creative tasks, they are creating and shaping solutions by writing code. What they produce is a reflection of their ability and commitment to quality.

If you create an environment where that quality may be compromised, you are likely to create mistrust among your team. Most often, this happens through promising a deliverable in an unrealistic time frame.

Instead, talk regularly to your team about what’s doable before you commit to a delivery date. This shows care and respect for their work and will allow them to write high-quality code.

Be Agile and Open to Change

Development is different from many other career paths. While an accountant may be able to sit down and plan a project from start to finish, a developer’s project plan will almost always be altered mid-path due to unexpected challenges. In this sense, it is important to anticipate that those obstacles will arise and be flexible to changing directions.

Aim to create an environment in which you can talk freely and authentically about project problems so that you can develop new solutions as needed. Rigidity in the face of change will make the project longer and harder — and may cause resentment in your team.

Don’t Hover

Most people do not respond well to micromanagement; developers are no different. Developers need long, focused, uninterrupted periods of time (hours, even days) to do their work. Frequent check-ins and hovering management styles will decrease productivity and cause lack of trust.

To get the most from your team, trust them to do their jobs. Schedule short check-ins throughout the week, and use those times to ask questions. Outside of those meetings, let your teamwork. This will build trust and empower your team to maximize their time — and produce more for you.

Minimize Distractions

Developers spend much time in their day just getting started. Reading and re-familiarizing themselves with a code base and problem can take an hour or more. That means distractions are hugely detrimental to a project timeline.

Help your team by minimizing notifications like Slack messages, emails, and in-person meetings. Consider implementing “quiet time” for a substantial period of each day where your team can anticipate diving into their work without any disruptions. Finally, talk openly with your team about the distractions they face so that you can help overcome others they may be facing.

If you are managing a team of programmers or a mobile applications development project and looking to lead your team better, talk to them about how these solutions can help you work together more efficiently.

If you are struggling with your development team, contact us using our Contact Us form located here.


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