I had an opportunity to do an Employee Engagement Survey this week. Unfortunately, the https://gallup.com/ survey platform is so poorly constructed, and in trying to figure out how I can enter free text responses I managed to complete the survey without entering anything. And, of course, you cannot edit once submitted.
So I’m going to share my prepared thoughts here instead.
The following are in answer to 2 questions – how can the company increase my engagement, and how can the company improve. I think they are valid points every software development company and consultancy should consider.
- Stop treating staff as numbers and resources. We’re skilled people.
- Stop treating people like children. We’re all adults and professionals.
- Realise software developers are a “unique” bunch of people. Give us a little slack.
For example: we sit in front of a computer 8 hours/day. Let us wear something comfortable and don’t nitpick about strict business attire (if we look clean and unoffensive, what’s the problem? People barely get to see or interact with us anyway.)
- Give developers Pluralsight subscriptions and time for some training.
- I’ve had zero opportunity for training, and certainly no training on company time.
- Understand your staff, recognise their abilities and interests, and support them.
- When you give a little to your staff, they tend to give a lot more back.
- Reduce Project Manager turnover. There’s nothing more depressing than being a dedicated worker stuck on toxic or troubled projects and watching PM’s cycle through the door (i.e. 4-6 in a 12 month period).
- Get rid of people who don’t perform or are toxic. They damage morale, team dynamic and work quality.
- Recognise and keep good teams together. A team of 2-4 people who work well together is worth more than the sum of the parts.
- Give developers equipment sufficient to meet the needs of the job (i.e. “developer” spec machines, not “business” user spec).
- Make sure staff have quality chairs and ergonomic workstations setup (2+ monitors, raised to the right height). I’m forever fighting back problems because chairs onsite are rubbish.
I’ve had a $1,500 ergonomic chair at home for 12 years but can’t get a decent chair in the office that doesn’t hurt by back.
- Staff have career aspirations. Care about your staff and understand their aspirations. Provide them with opportunities to grow (and don’t leave it to staff to have to ask). Perhaps then you won’t have a revolving door of disgruntled staff leaving.
I get that “staff are responsible for their own career”, but if you don’t meet them half-way then they just leave for better opportunities (🖕).
I joined the company to grow my career but have since seen it practically destroyed. In fact, I’ve given up on it and now work 80 hour weeks to grow my own business and quite the workforce.
- Have career discussions with staff. I haven’t had a single career-based discussion since joining the company. No one in a position of authority knows what I want (or seems to care).
- I’ve gone from being a lead and manager to spending 8 hours cutting code on tech I’m not interested in. I’m bored and pissed off most of the day (though remain capable and dedicated to the task).
- I come to work angry every day.
- Between not being heard, not being treated like a professional and being bored shitless (clarification: I’m “busy” but mentally not at all stimulated, interested or stretched), my favourite part of the day is going home to get some “real” work done.
- I’m so frustrated I’ve drafted a dated registration letter ready for the moment I snap.
- Dev leads should be capable of “leading”. They should not be “senior developers” who happen to have a lead title. Leading is about people management, processes, patterns, documentation, training, coordination, etc. It’s not cutting code.
- Be intelligent with KPIs. The KPIs developers are “told” to enter into the system are ridiculous and things like “Effective time management ensuring 85% billable utilization” are not a developer’s concern. Not that anything is being done with KPIs.
- How does career progression work if the company structure is constantly in flux, managers don’t talk to staff to find out their desires, and there are no actual KPIs to work toward?
- Salary reviews would be nice. Even just lip service is better than the nothing we get.
- No one says “good work”. A bit of praise every now and then for slogging it out in the trenches on toxic projects would go a long way.
- Allow people to speak freely about their work, their job and the state of a project they are on without repercussions (either overt or covert). I don’t feel I can speak freely in the company (I’m sure a manager has it “in” for me for speaking my mind).