Being productive makes us happy. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to do more in less time?
More and more, employers are embracing productivity as the key measure of success. Rather than simply making sure team members are clocking a certain number of hours, they’ve realized that measuring employees’ output is more important.
Even if your team isn’t focused on productivity in that way, creating the right conditions for a productive team is advantageous to your bottom line and team morale.
Here are a few ideas to help a development manager’s team be more productive.
Getting into the flow zone
Distractions are high on any programmer’s list of productivity killers. The cost of interruption is high and achieving flow after a distraction is not as easy as it sounds.
One study of 414 programmers found that a developer is likely to only get two hours of uninterrupted coding time per day at best. Additionally, after a major interruption, it can take an engineer as long as 15 minutes to start coding again.
It doesn’t matter if the disturbance is a self-distraction or an external interruption. Developers need the mental space to process information and complete error-free work. Any distraction can negatively affect developer performance and send them back to the beginning of a problem.
Here are a couple of ideas for helping your development team combat some of the most common destroyers of deep work.
Create a focus-friendly environment
Many offices are full of environmental distractions — especially in startups where open working spaces are common. You can help your employees find — and keep — their flow by encouraging them to wear noise-canceling headphones or giving them options such as working from home, another part of your office, or even an alternate work schedule.
Eliminate worthless meetings & unscheduled drop-ins
Nothing is less productive than a mandatory meeting or an unscheduled drop-in that could have been handled another way. Show your coding team that you value their time by minimizing required meetings and updates. If you can hold a standup meeting or gather updates via email, do so.
Enforcing a well-defined development process
Cumbersome processes and unclear workflow expectations can be the root cause of both unnecessary work and poor code quality. This inhibits progress, can lead to coding errors, technical debt, and the need for additional code review and bug fixes.
When what your team needs to do isn’t clear, they spend precious time figuring it out instead of just getting it done. Here are two requirements for getting the job done efficiently:
A clear statement of work
Understanding the requirements of the project you’re working on is essential. The key is building a working relationship with the project’s stakeholders and drafting a concise software development agreement. Yours should describe everything from timelines and responsibilities to deliverables and requirements.
A robust and balanced workflow
Blocked tasks, repetitive manual actions, unclear next steps — all of these can be counterproductive and slow the amount of work getting done. Help your team to work at its best by instituting a workflow that keeps information flowing and technology that alleviates workloads. Consider sending out relevant coding refreshers or shifting schedules so no one is overloaded.
Encouraging strong team dynamics
Do you have team members that don’t read their emails or respond to requests for project updates? Does your team always do what they say when they say or are you constantly checking in?
Here are a few ideas for boosting your team’s dynamics for maximum productivity:
Securing their psychological safety
According to a comprehensive internal study of Google’s teams, “psychological safety was far and away the most important of the five [success] dynamics we found.” Without it, people become afraid to take risks and innovate. To help your team blossom, consider integrating a regular team-building exercise. Google indicates that those experiences lead to a 6% increase in team psychological safety ratings.
Making sure they like their job
Feeling productive doesn’t mean just increasing your output and efficiency. It also means increasing the value you offer — and being recognized for it. In fact, two of the other five factors on Google’s list for successful team dynamics are Meaning of Work and Impact of Work. Is your team working on something they personally feel is important? Do they believe the work they are doing matters? If you don’t know, ask them.
Every distraction counts
Developer productivity is more than just getting a set of tasks done quickly. It’s influenced by process, tools, environment, and work habits. Even better, being productive creates a feeling of satisfaction and motivates people to dig in deeper.
Tell us, what are some of your productivity challenges? What have you done to overcome them?