In today’s competitive market for developers, it is difficult to recruit great developers. In my experience, it is easy to find ordinary developers but difficult to find the superstar or a diamond in the rough. If you do find them, they might have multiple job offers at the same time. So…time is of the essence when interviewing and extending an offer. The actual interview process that I use will be another article to be written in the future but for now, let’s say you were lucky enough to land the rock star candidate.
- Have an onboarding process for new developers. It will take a day or two for the developer to build their environment on their workstation and connect to the printers and folders. I recommend you pair the developer with an experienced developer to show them where the code is stored, the process of checking and testing code, and understanding the build process.
- Meet with the developer with one-on-one sessions. The frequency should start off about every 2 weeks but then grow to once a month. You should inform them that this is his/her meeting to discuss projects, team dynamics, needed training, and other key areas. You should have agenda items to discuss as well. The key here is to create a relationship and an open discussion. If the developer is unhappy or concerned over anything, this is the time to discuss.
- Build a career plan for the developer. Anywhere between the 6th or 12th-month anniversary, create an individualized career plan for the developer. You should use discussions during the one-on-one sessions to gauge what path the developer desires to go and perhaps reset expectations if necessary. I remember a discussion with a candidate who was applying for a junior developer position. During the discussion, I asked him where he saw himself in 5 years. To my surprise, he told me he wanted to be a CTO and he felt he would have that role in 4/5 years. In a medium, to a large organization, I knew this was too high of an expectation.
- Let them work from home. I typically let my team WFH at least 2 days a week. With technology and internet speeds today, there is no reason they can’t be productive (I actually found them more productive) while working from home. With tools like instant messengers, connecting and talking to them is a keystroke away. I live in the Atlanta area and without the nagging traffic, working from home gains them anywhere from an hour to two hours a day. This is time the developer could be working instead of starting and stopping in traffic.
- So much more to the secret sauce. This list is not complete as there are items like coding standards, code review, team virtual meetings, team outings that all add up to a happier developer.
In summary, these are only a few ways as a leader you can use to retain rock star developers. It is costlier to replace developers than retaining them. Just consider the weeks of new employee onboarding as a cost. This is not even taking into account the time and energy it takes to interview for a great developer. BTW, rock star developers attract other rock star developers.