What is the stereotypical image of a typical developer? Unfortunately, plenty of people believe that developers are loners with a lack of communicative skills. That’s why they choose IT sphere — just to spend their days coding and not to run into people.
The truth is that it’s terribly wrong. Communicative skills are as important as technical skills or certification. It’s even more important for a developer to be proficient in communication rather than in the technical sphere. I’m not diminishing the significance of professional skills. I just want to break this stereotype and prove that effective communication is a key to be a top-notched developer. Today I’ll share with you our approach to improving communication inside the company and why it’s a necessity.
Why Communication Is Crucial For Developers?
As I said before, developing is not only about coding all day long. During a usual working day, they have to communicate a lot: discuss the projects with team members and correctly state thoughts in order to get across their point of view. Developers should know how to defend their tech decisions in front of a boss or project manager if they’ve found a better way to accomplish a task. These qualities may reveal leader capacities what motivate developers to work harder or increase the responsibility level. These skills are part and parcel of the job.
Communication with clients is one more indispensable part of developers’ responsibilities. We encourage the developers to talk to our clients. They know how to explain to the clients what solution will be good or bad for their businesses. To manage this process, developers should clearly state the pros and cons of a certain option. It’s common that a developer and client are from the different worlds, so they must know how to convey the message easily and not to overwhelm the clients with piles of technical information. Some clients are not interested in the technical side of work, as they just want to see the result and solution that frees them from pains. The result of successful communication is better clients’ experience.
Communication creates an atmosphere of mutual aid. A well-experienced developer should sustain it. It’s especially important for the newcomers. Developers should help each other to grow and improve their skills. It requires to be supportive, easy-going and encouraging.
That’s why we pay attention to communication skills when hiring new developers.
Besides technical skills we look at these qualities during job interviews:
- Good listening — understanding of position requirements, queries, colleagues’ ideas.
- Attentiveness — respect speakers and their points of view, catch the message correctly and if something isn’t clear sort it out to avoid misunderstanding
- Good speaker — clearly convey the message and interact with people easily.
Improving Corporate Communication
We never turn away really talented developers if they have a lack of communication skills. If a person is an introvert by nature, there is always a way to make him/her feel freer. The idea is not to throw the introverted person on a stage and make him speak, but to be a good teammate. We’re practicing a lot to be tolerant, attentive and respectful to our mates.
We stimulate our workers to communicate with each other. Every employee passes the MBTI test to find out his/her personality type. Why are we passing this test? It helps to define your strengths and weaknesses, attitude towards the work and friendship, career perspective, etc. What is more important it can tell you what personality type you feel most comfortable with. All the results we keep in a doc and update the data when we hire a new employee. These data help to find like-minded people and show how to behave yourself with a certain personality type for more effective communication.
But we’re keeping in mind one thing. These types are generalized. People may have qualities of several personalities. That’s why we don’t throw everyone in the same barrel. The idea is to stimulate the strengths and work on weaknesses of employees without abusing them.
To be honest, I’m skeptical about such tests. But when I passed it, I was shocked by its accuracy. “It is impossible!” that was my first thought. Just try it by yourself to confirm my words. Now let’s come back to the topic.
Communication should become a usual part of the working process. We’re organizing daily stand-ups, where our developers report on the tasks they’ve done, discuss the future projects and the difficulties they face completing tasks. It’s a good way of improving verbal communication and solving current problems. To boost communication, we’re also practicing blogging. Our employees share their experience and project cases with our community. Blogging improves not only writing and communication skills but also enhances the company’s image. Your workers can be the best advocates for your organization.
A healthy mental climate is one more step to getting better at communication. A sound atmosphere in an organization can be achieved by showing that it values its workers. We’ve made a survey to find out what motivates our developers. We chose 10 motivators (Curiosity, Acceptance, Power, Relatedness, Goal, Honor, Mastery, Freedom, Order, Status) and asked everyone to list them from the most important to less important. It helps to understand how to organize the working process in a more effective way and how to encourage employees. We found out that the most important motivators in our company are Mastery, Curiosity and Freedom. Our developers can satisfy their curiosity and desire to develop their skills visiting Magento conferences.
Social events and leisure time play a significant role in improving communication. These forms of activity create social bonds between folks, help to build common ground and make communication between co-workers easier. To satisfy the team’s needs we conveyed one more survey to find out what leisure activities are the most preferable for them. It’s not only the way to understand what you should purchase for corporate entertainments, but these data can also help teammates to find a person who shares the same hobbies and interests.
The last social event we had, was National Hugging Day on January 21. Actually, there are three Hugging Days around the world: 21st of January (the USA), 9th of August (Japan), 4th of December (European Union). We try not to miss each of them. Three times a year we gather together and hug every folk in the office. It is a great challenge, as it’s still a little bit confusing for some of us. Nevertheless, the idea is to liberate ourselves and become freer. It’s cool when a company celebrates together such social events as Halloween or New Year E.g. Pastime brings together the team and makes you feel like a family.
We think that every developing company should spend more time and efforts on improving mental climate inside the organization. As I said before a good developer should be sophisticated not only in the technical sphere but has a number of communication skills. If you’ll create a communication-friendly atmosphere and encourage your employees to communicate, soon you’ll notice how fast they will evolve and bring the company more benefits. The final aim isn’t to pay off your investments, but to make your employees feel comfortable to work with each other and clients. In any case, if workers are happy, the company will thrive.