In the middle of the recent economic headwinds we have all read about (e.g. tax cliff, sequester, debt ceiling, rising healthcare costs, etc.), businesses both large and small have resorted to lay offs, cut backs and compensation reductions to protect historical margins. It’s a concerning trend that has unfortunately created stress and anxiety for the employees of those firms. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with very talented individuals in niche professional services firms, and the number one lesson I have learned is that your employees are your number one asset. You cannot expect to operate efficiently and deliver world-class results in any industry without a dedicated and skilled workforce.
During any crisis, it’s very important to have strong leadership in place to face the difficult challenges that lay ahead. And in any great company, you need to institutionalize and promote a great culture based on continuous learning, trust and mentorship. When it comes to what software development professionals expect from their management or company leadership, I think of the following:
- An employee-focused culture where new ideas are embraced, not necessarily implemented, but are welcomed and where discussion, transparency communication and trust are essential.
- Management that is vested in the happiness of the team, not just the productivity (and make it a priority).
- Management who understands that a developer's passion is based at least partially in working on their own projects and supporting their ideas.
- Flexibility with work environment, work hours and technologies. Sometimes this is tough given customer requirements, however management should provide necessary flexibility where available.
- Management that promotes a continuous learning environment. Your employees should have the opportunity to explore new technologies and obtain critical skills necessary to stay current and competitive in today’s evolving environment.
All of these points require a culture that fosters an open environment, where all employees can speak their minds freely and all have the same entrepreneurial opportunities to share in the future growth and success of the organization. Leadership is an honor and requires a deep obligation to serve the employees and ensure they have all the necessary resources to become successful. This is why organizations today should focus on developing a true employee-focused culture, provide the necessary investment in their employees personal and professional growth, reward them for their hard work and positive results, and expose them to new career opportunities.