On a typical day, us programmers and software developers spend most of the time staring at our computers. We could be churning out code, working on a bug ticket, improving the test suite or refactoring existing codebase.
Due to the nature of our work, it can be hard for us to fully grasp how our work affects the company as a whole. Even if you are working in a tech startup, you may be working on a small portion of a larger system.
If you are a salesperson, you understand that your job is to bring in more sales. And by bringing in more sales, you directly impact the bottom line. It’s clear to everyone why we need a salesperson.
As developers, things aren’t as clear cut as that. This is especially true for junior developers who don’t have the experience or access to information, to comprehend how code they wrote, can bring value to the company.
And without this clarity, it will be very hard to motivate the team and rally them to do their best work. This is where the lead developer or project manager need to step in and provide as much information as possible on the task at hand.
Start with the why
Before going into the technical details, start by pitching the vision behind it. No matter how small the task, everything should part of a larger strategy which in turns drives a particular vision of the company.
Simply put, you will need to explain why they need to do all this work. Provide the big picture and go into business models, customer personas and marketing strategies if required.
Get your team clarity on where the company wants to go and help them understand why they are heading there. It’s important for them to buy-in into the vision before moving forward.
Understand how it impacts the business
After you pitched them the vision, now you need to explain how the work they do will impact the business either directly or indirectly. For tech, most of our work have an indirect impact on the business.
This is where metrics and numbers will help. Use them to explain how their work can help improve conversions, increase sales or reduce costs. Be as detailed as possible.
The goal here is to make it clear that their work will affect the business and move certain metrics. Whether it’s impacting them directly or indirectly isn’t the point.
Align everything with what they are doing
Once your team is aligned with the vision and understand how it will impact the business, then only you can start getting into the technical details on what the work entails.
Make sure you clarify how a particular feature, bug fix or refactoring effort will affect certain metrics. By doing this, you can assure that your team is working only on stuff that matters.
Align the effort of your team towards the common goal of the company. Every team member should have a clear understanding on how the code they write brings value to the company.
As a bonus, once you provide this level of clarity to your team, they will be a lot more motivated and productive. They will craft better solutions and serve the business better.
So if you want to improve the results and impact of your team, start by giving clarity to each of your members on how they can create value. Start with the vision, explain how it impacts the business and get out of the way so they can deliver the goods.