One of the most difficult things about recruiting and managing an amazing team of developers is keeping them motivated and keeping their skills refined. You want to make sure that they have the right tools, the right people and the right knowledge to get the job done. You want to encourage them to be motivated without overloading them. It's a fine art and can become very overwhelming at times.
If you're looking for a few suggestions for supercharging your development team, these four tips for cultivating rock star developers can help:
Surround them with awesome people.
Passion begets passion. Surrounding your developers with like-minded co-workers who are equally as passionate is crucial for their success, efficiency and motivation. A TINYpulse employee engagement survey found a correlation coefficient of .92 between employees' happiness and their relationship with coworkers. This was the most popular response when the 40,000 respondents were asked, "Why do you love your job?"
If you haven't heard of or haven't implemented pair programming, now would be a great time to look into it. If pair programming isn't an option that you want to consider, make sure that you are creating an environment that encourages teamwork and doesn't demotivate your team.
Make sure they're always learning.
Fostering a continuous learning mindset is something that any rock star developer should already be doing on his or her own time. But how are you supporting those efforts? In order to really help your developers become more effective and "rock stars" you have to make sure that you're offering them the learning resources they need. That means creating a curriculum and offering reimbursement or incentives for taking educational courses on their own.
Give them the freedom to code.
Eliminating distraction, office politics and meaningless meetings is your job. It's your programmers' job to code. The only way a developer can improve and become more efficient and a better programmer overall is to gain even more experience. To quote Albert Einstein, "Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience."
Really good developers love the rush associated with working on code that they've built. The more opportunities that a programmer has to write flawless code, the better he or she becomes. Learning resources are a great start, but it's the actual practice that produces really great developers.
Encourage and reward outside efforts
While some employers don't encourage a second job, developers know practice makes perfect. Side projects can be a great opportunity to test their skills and learn new things. Being supportive of these efforts will help your developers hone their skills and give them the opportunity to grow.
Take it a step further by encouraging your team to join local user groups, attend technology and programming conferences (here's a great list from TechCrunch) and attend hackathons. The more opportunities they have to practice and refine their skills, the more quickly they'll evolve into the rock star developers that you're looking for.
While innate talent is a great quality to look for in an individual, hard work and experience can yield particularly amazing programmers. Help your development team to refine their skills by encouraging learning, giving them the appropriate amount of freedom and surrounding them with enthusiastic, skilled team members.