How to Motivate Software Developers

If you want to make sure that you ship a quality piece of software, and boost your chances of delivering within budget and on-schedule, then you need to motivate your development team. So how do you get developers fired up and ready to work? What makes for a determined, passionate, and committed team? Let’s take a look at some of the key contributing factors that can really spur motivation.

The right job, the right team, the right way

You have to start out with a task that will inspire developers. They want to work on things that actually matter. If you’re asking them to build something that doesn’t seem to offer any real value and benefit to end users, then you can expect a tepid response. It also doesn’t make sense from a wider business stance.

The schedule and budget have to be realistic. You should set out goals that are going to stretch them, but not be impossible. If you force engineers to cut corners and turn in work that they don’t feel pride in, then you’ll have a negative impact on morale. They should be equipped with the tools and time they need to do the job properly. It’s one thing to work over the weekend because of an unexpected technological challenge, but quite another to be toiling on a Sunday because the schedule was poorly planned from the outset.

Developers should expect an environment that enables them to do a good job, but you should also expect effort and quality from them. Any engineer who falls below par, is consistently shoddy or late with code, or doesn’t meet the quality standards of their peers, perhaps should be let go.  It’s not fair to expect others to carry the weight of a poor performer.

Creativity, learning and recognition

Software developers may prefer a clear vision and a solid plan but they can be creative, too. Give them some input in the design phase and let them bring their experience to the table. They may have useful ideas about what direction the software should take, and they’ll come at it from a different angle than the other stakeholders.

Give them an opportunity to learn and develop new skills, and they’ll be motivated and happy. You’ll also benefit on future projects, if you encourage a continuous learning approach. It’s also vital to recognize outstanding efforts and praise engineers when they do a good job. Being recognized and praised can have a huge impact on morale, and really boost motivation for the whole team.

Motivated developers are always going to do a better job, so it’s worth making some effort. If you want to drill down a bit deeper, and expand on these ideas, then you may want to read “7 Tips for Motivating Software Development Teams” just published in

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