“Managing” Software Development – Culture is everything!

Today’s workforce doesn’t want to come to work, punch in (time clock), do their job, and then punch out (time clock).  Teammates want to be part of an organization where:

  • they are valued
  • they  get the mission
  • they feel like they belong
  • they get to do meaningful work
  • they are treated with respect

There are countless books that have been written that directly or indirectly refer to the subject of culture in business.  You’ve probably read some of them along the way, so I’m not going to regurgitate the concepts.  What I am going to say is that the effort to establish a culture that employees and customers want to embrace is not great, yet the ROI is greater than any other investment you can make.  Over my career, the culture can be the best recruiting and retention asset.  As a leader, you don’t have to take on the burden of establishing the culture by yourself.  In every organization that I have been a member of has a cadre of folks who are interested in creating an interesting and fun place to work.  Crowd source you culture.  Find a couple of teammates who share your vision, ask them to lead the effort, and get out of the way.

You can’t just walk away at this point though.  Your teammates will need, with some boundaries, to be empowered both financially and organizationally.  Nothing will take the air out of your culture than an oppressive leader who crushes or changes every idea that is presented.  In my experience, those employees will become more engaged in work.

In addition, there will be some ideas that will require moderate costs.  You don’t want to over do it, but buying pizza or bagels for your teammates can go a long way.  At my current employer, we have Donut Thursday, where donuts are provided for the entire company.  No reason other than we value what they do.  Nominal cost of about $30/week, yet it has helps contribute to our overall cultural message:  The company values you.  We also create events such as  Snack & Yaks, where the company buys Jimmy John’s for the team.  Again, not a big expense, but goes a long way.

In addition, your teammates will need counsel and advice on how to proceed.  Often, this is the first opportunity for some of your teammates to assume a leadership role.  Training and mentoring around leadership should be available to support your teammates.  Fortunately, your teammates also don’t need to go far to get ideas.  Companies, such as Lesson.Ly, Toms, and Spotify, make their opinions on culture available on corporate websites.  Spotify’s engineering culture videos are a must see.

Culture is a living thing that must be nurtured to sustain.  Get started today.

Thanks for coming in today.

Chris

 

 

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