Keep Your Team of Software Engineers Happy and Motivated By Growing them

The Step-by-Step Leader Guide

5 min readMay 1, 2020
Engaged Software Engineers: the Step-by-Step leader guide

One of the biggest challenges facing corporations, companies, and businesses today is that of turnover. In one survey releases on 600 U.S. businesses with 50–500 employees, it was found that 63.3% of respondents said retaining their employees is actually harder than hiring them. Thanks to a world connected by technology, with thousands of job boards, leads, and connections at our fingertips, it can be a real challenge to keep your team of software engineers happy and motivated.

For the purpose of this post, we’re going to make the case why investing in your team’s personal growth will keep them around in the short and long-term. Since an employee turnover can cost between six to nine months of their salary, totaling in the tens of thousands, investing in their growth is a much smarter business investment to make today.

Helping Your Software Engineers Grow

When you make the time to invest in the growth of your software engineers, it will do something incredible: it will build trust between you, as a software manager, and your team. When trust exists in a team setting, projects will be done more quickly, with less questions, and with more quality. When people feel valued, they are willing to go above and beyond for you.

One great way to show your team you are ready to invest in their growth is to host career discussions. And no, doing this just once per year doesn’t really show you care. Doing this more frequently than just the year review period, however, will make engineers feel valued, supported, and cared for.

Here’s our step-by-step guide:

1. Define Career Profiles for Your Team: Sometimes, people have no idea how to advance through a company because they don’t know what the requirements are. When it’s an invisible expectation to go from one level to the next, chances are, most of your team has no idea what to do to get there. You need to define the expectations, competencies, and skills your team members need to be promoted and operate at different career levels. This can be sent out in a PDF, provided in a monthly workshop, or you can access our software for a proven set that makes it obvious. With this clarity, you will notice engineers going above and beyond to reach for the stars.

2. Establish a Baseline of Where Everyone Is: When you meet with your staff monthly, it’s not time to be vague and distant. You need to be forward and direct with them. You need to let your software engineers know where they are operating as far as levels go, how far they have to go to the next level, and so forth. Our brains do best when we have predictability accessible — in fact, we are hardwired to hate uncertainty. When the human brain is able to find some predictable patterns, etc. in a job or workplace setting, we are better able to adapt to ensure we fit into those expectations and advance.

3. Make the Discussions Accessible: After you discuss where a software engineer falls as far as ranking goes, you need to allow them to talk with you about discrepancies and if they agree with that assessment. Being open to discussion at all levels will make your software engineers feel like you are there to help them grow, as opposed to just domineering their everyday move as someone who is below you.

Additionally, as part of this discussion, you need to establish areas that the team members like to grow on. What do your teams excel at, and what do they hate? Is there anyway you can prioritize having them do more of what they love and are good at? By talking with them in a two-way conversation, you can learn more about what matters to them. So many companies fail to do this and are left blindsided when a software engineer gets up and leaves one day.

4. Establish Growth Plans: Using an easy-to-use career growth board, you can track all of your software projects, milestones, and so forth, making it easy for both you and your employee to understand where they stand. Similar to an agile board that software engineers use to track software projects, in Kanban boards, your team can have perfect clarity regarding where they stand right now. With this transparency, they will be more motivated to work harder, as well as more trusting of you, the boss.

5. Bring These Boards into One-on-One Discussions: As you work to provide one-on-one meetings and updates with employees regularly, as opposed to yearly, be sure to bring these career growth boards into the discussions. It always helps to have actual facts, numbers, and displays in the room so you can make transparent remarks and work to help them grow in their career trajectory.

6. Track Open Work Items: When using our career growth software, you can keep track of open work items related to each engineer. So although the one-on-ones are more focused and effective, they can also be something that leaves the room and follows the engineer throughout the month. You can manage and view the status of work, helping to keep everyone on schedule while pointing out any problems or issues along the way. This can help to derail any bigger problems with advancement down the line.

How Do You Know When Your Teammates Are Thriving?

How can you determine if this guide is working for your company? In the short-term, as the team leader, your teammates should come prepared for their career discussions, eager to chat with you. They should have questions, feedback, and energetic engagement throughout the whole meeting, treating it as a brainstorming session more so than a report card reading.

In the long run, this kind of transparency and accessibility will create higher productivity at the company, higher levels of motivation and initiatives from teams to advance, and greater overall quality of work delivered to clients. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Keeping Your Team Happy

In totality, by meeting with teammates frequently, bringing in career board information and growth trajectory, and providing a scenario in which team mates can chat and collaborate with you, your company will witness happier, more motivated software engineers almost instantly. It starts by being transparent with expectations.

Originally published at on May 1, 2020.




Helping teams grow and deliver. At Actagan, we help you focus on building relationships and do the tactical work for you.