Nearly every aspect of the software development process is accelerating, from the increasing speed of programming languages to the expectation of faster delivery. This has resulted in the misconception that speed and efficiency should be a DevOps team’s or engineer’s top priority. Though agile transformations have been a central strategy for most organizations in recent years, investing in team culture while undergoing an agile overhaul is paramount to overall success.
For many workers, the pandemic caused a shift in priorities, so much so that as we begin to emerge from the events of the last two years, almost a quarter of UK workers are planning job changes and businesses are tackling the so-called Great Resignation. A desire to improve work-life balance and enjoy better benefits like flexible working has made employees more likely to leave a job. As such, maintaining employee satisfaction and protecting team mental health should be a top priority for companies wanting to keep retention rates high.
This starts with leadership, and engineering and DevOps leaders must have full transparency into their teams, with an understanding of exactly what motivates them. With this in mind, here are three top priorities for engineering and DevOps leaders in 2022.
1. Prioritize Team Culture
The tech sector is notorious for a high employee turnover rate, with a LinkedIn report putting it at 13.2%, far above other industries. For engineers especially, the increased pressure to deliver at lightning speed has created an unsustainable “churn and burn” culture.
Simultaneously, engineers have no shortage of options when it comes to job prospects as demand is booming. In fact, this particular sector in England and Wales advertised more job vacancies in 2021 than all British businesses across 2020.
To avoid any leavers, it’s important for engineering leaders to establish a unique and engaging culture within their teams, and actively and continuously examine it to ensure that engineers feel supported and valued.
However, there are a few key principles shared across world-class engineering teams. Allowing engineers to work on projects that excite them and allow them to explore their creativity is crucial. This may involve giving them dedicated time to work on developing their skills and pursuing innovative projects. In addition, leaders should cultivate a culture for their engineering teams that is built around appreciation, collaboration and psychological safety. Weaving open and honest career discussion and satisfaction check-ins into one-on-one meetings will help employees feel listened to and motivated by their personal progression.
2. Use Data as Your Gut Check
Ensuring decisions are data-driven is also incredibly important. The best leaders are often those who use concrete evidence to strengthen their teams. Engineering leaders must use data and metrics to gauge the health of their teams in the current jobs landscape.
Even for engineering leaders, a team’s day-to-day programming can sometimes seem like a black box, so finding clear insights about the development process is imperative. With an engineering metrics solution, it is possible to obtain better visibility into your team’s workflow. This not only helps ensure efficiency and quality, but it can also help to gauge employee success and morale.
Continuous health monitoring using a robust set of metrics will provide leaders with early identification and help to resolve any friction. A data-driven platform to ensure that individuals’ contributions are ‘seen’ is fundamental. Monitoring a teams’ daily workflow helps to identify standout employees that may otherwise fly under the radar, as well as flagging those who may be struggling. It’s important to pay particular attention to metrics that drive employees toward their professional goals and help to remove bottlenecks across teams.
Prioritizing constructive feedback and one-on-one conversations with employees is crucial to employee success and retention. The focus must be on frequent check-ins with engineers to ensure that they are thriving personally and professionally.
3. Focus on People First, Rather Than Performance
Nothing will ever be as important within a team as the people. Only the engineering and DevOps leaders who prioritize people through a variety of tools and techniques will reap the rewards and stay ahead of the competition.
Recent research has shown that happy employees are up to 12% more productive.
An engineering team will deliver their best work when they feel encouraged by leaders, have the space and autonomy to work in a meaningful way and have accomplishments acknowledged and celebrated.
As leaders, it is critical to remember to check in with team members as people, before checking in with them as workers.
Engineering leaders will likely be battling for in-demand talent in 2022 and beyond as they continue to contend with the Great Resignation. In the face of this, there is a real opportunity for leaders to distinguish teams through their engineering culture. Whether you are cognizant of it or not, a team has a culture. It’s incumbent upon engineering leaders to make having a people-first culture the top priority in 2022.