Team productivity is a hot topic, especially among managers of software developers. Tech talent is becoming difficult to find and keep. However, the workload isn’t going away. In fact, it’s growing as the business world increasingly comes to rely on enhanced software solutions and tools.
Now more than ever, managers must find ways to keep their development teams on task. But a company’s precious resources aren’t limited to time and talent. Effectiveness and product quality are also critical to client satisfaction and business performance. Below we’ll explore tools and tactics managers can use to ensure their teams are as efficient and effective as possible.
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Sync All Project Communication
Project managers may lead the team. However, product managers determine an app’s specs, requirements, and designs. They have a critical stake in the team’s success and are a significant source of guidance. Product managers often put together documents that contain information the team requires to move forward. These can include metrics, market analyses, and road maps.
In short, product managers oversee a development team’s strategy. They work with project managers and group members to ensure their ideas become realities. But team leads and developers can’t do that when communication and direction are scattered, isolated, or absent. Leaders who use a product manager tool to provide guidance can avoid the chaos that comes from poor communication.
Every developer will see and work from the same documentation within the right tool. Product and project managers can sync strategy with execution and stay on top of a project’s progress. Developers see what work they need to complete and by when, and any hiccups that come up are more visible. Managers minimize siloed communication within and between leadership and developer ranks. When given identical resources, teams become more efficient and effective.
Some teams work remotely, while others see each other in person nearly every day. Offices have several known distractions, including interruptions from co-workers and noise from side conversations. But developers who work from home or follow hybrid schedules don’t necessarily have distraction-free environments.
Survey research shows that in-person and remote workers deal with some of the same distractions. On average, employees experience a distraction every 31 minutes. Distractions can come from emails and unplanned or unscheduled conversations. Some of these conversations may be last-minute meetings that turn out to be a waste of time.
Managers can remove distractions by shaping developers’ work environments. Removing distractions may involve getting rid of open-office concepts and creating private workspaces. It can also mean supporting remote developers with stipends for home office equipment, such as dual monitors and noise-canceling headphones. But considerations managers may overlook include respecting developers’ time and allowing flexible schedules.
Respecting developers’ time entails setting communication guidelines and letting developers work when they’re most productive. Schedule meetings only if that’s the most effective way to communicate or discuss information. Let team members decline if they don’t believe they can contribute to the discussion. Also, allow developers to flex their schedules to work around personal commitments as long as assignments get done.
Match Tasks With Skill Sets and Interests
It’s rare that jobs and assignments are purpose-driven or stimulating 100% of the time. Most developers know they will have to tackle a few tasks that they find boring or routine. However, when developers experience boredom from their work every day, their engagement and productivity can suffer.
Feeling underwhelmed, underused, or bored stiff is a top driver of employee turnover. Ironically, boredom can also be a reason workers start to pull back. Because a lack of meaningful tasks decreases motivation, boredom may cause employees to volunteer or speak up less. Since workers typically don’t hold as much power as their managers, they may feel helpless about the situation.
Steps managers can take to mitigate boredom include observing developers’ strengths and asking them about their career interests. Matching assignments and projects with developers’ skill sets and passions will build better employer-employee relationships. Letting junior team members partner up with mentors on stretch or new projects will also help. Developers will gain more meaning and motivation and feel that managers value their expertise.
Some developers are good at organizing and prioritizing their workloads with little intervention. But just because employees can do this well, it doesn’t mean they won’t become overwhelmed or confused. Developers may lose steam when managers assign numerous project tasks with competing or no due dates.
Employees won’t know what’s the true priority for the company, team, or client and will have to guess. As a result, some developers may delay tasks that impact the productivity of other team members. A project could end up becoming a race to the finish line. The quality of the outcome might also fail to meet expectations.
When leaders set priorities for their teams, it helps clarify where developers should direct their time and effort. Instead of focusing on assignments that can wait, team members will knock out those that can’t. More importantly, developers will have enough time to ensure a project’s deliverables are up to par. Clients and businesses will get the outcomes they desire, setting the team and company up for future success.
Fostering Team Efficiency and Effectiveness
Even the most self-directed development teams need leadership to boost efficiency and effectiveness. Project and product managers are essential roles that provide guidance and motivation to increase performance. Using tools that centralize communication and establishing priorities are some of the ways managers can maximize group productivity. Leaders who encourage developers to use and stretch their abilities will help teams produce rewarding results.
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