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Team Building

Dear Reader,

[Editors Note: I’m cleaning up and re-organizing my main website, It will become the home for all my published code, etc. In the process of cleanup, I found this little ditty that I wrote. I didn’t want it to get lost so I’m posting it here. it really fits in with my team management theme here. Enjoy]

Ok, we’re all adults here. We’ve all ready “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering. We know what we are supposed to do to build great teams. But somehow, we just never find the time to do it. Deadlines creep up, budgets are tight and you just can’t afford another person. People call in sick and somebody has to pick up the slack. There are 100 excuses for not treating your developers like they should be treated. But how about coming up with at least one excuse to treat them right.

So here are 3 free or low cost ideas that I’ve developed over the course of my career. If you like them, take them and make them your own.

  • On their way way out every night, thank each person by name for coming in today. Be sincere and be honest. Let them know that you know that they could work elsewhere if they wanted to and you are truly thankful that they work with you.
  • Make sure you know the name and birthday of each of your people and if possible, their significant other. Send a card. If you have the budget, send a gift certificate for two for dinner somewhere nice.
  • Drop by your local grocery store and pick up a lot of candy, I mean a LOT. Bonus points if you know what kind of candy your people like but anything individually wrapped is good. Then go around (YOU go around, don’t send someone around) and drop off a hand-full to each person. Stay and chat for a few minutes.

All these ideas have a single thread in common. You, the manager, do something out of the ordinary for them, the developers. You do something that take the most precious resource you have, time. Giving them your time is worth more than anything else, except possibly for a raise.

Look, the bottom line is that it is all up to you, the manager. You have to be the glue that holds your your team together. You can make excuses all you want for why you don’t have time but trust me, it’s easier to keep good people than it is to find more.

Until next time,