Developers, programmers, IT people, and whatever else the tech savvy people out there go by have become the most important and hard to come by commodity in e-commerce. Many proud business owners and executives will scoff at this and go about their day convinced they are clearly the least replaceable, but I disagree. In E-commerce today it’s difficult to find an edge, and having the right developers on your team can mean all the difference. So what am I arguing for in the post? Simply to treat your developers better. Pay them on time, be kind to them, be patient with them, work around their schedule, and work with them to solve problems instead of shouting at them. I’ve gone as far as attending various conferences simply to wine and dine top developers I wanted to work with and I’ve been known to bribe developers with bourbon and scotch. And lest you say I’m shallow, many of these guys have become great friends (funny how they liked me after that!). So here is my ode to developers, my top reasons why you need to do everything in your power to keep good developers happy that they are working with you.
- Good developers have many choices. You want them to chose you. I’ve waited as long as 2 months to get projects started in the past, and even then I was lucky to get it going. The fact is that most freelance developers that are excellent have a lot of options so you need to become a preferred one. This will save you and you company valuable time.
- Good developers think more clearly than you. It’s now cliche to talk about Steve Job’s saying programming teaches you how to think, but it’s true! I don’t write code but I’ve learned how to think so much clearer just by discussing various projects with developers. Their insight is usually much better than any business consultant will be able to provide you with, because they tend to have a much more logical and methodical approach to problem solving.
- Good developers solve insane problems. The troubleshooting process can sometimes involve 5 programming languages across 10 servers and 4 databases. Where do you start?! I’ve always been super impressed with developers that dive in and are able to figure out some minuscule detail that caused an error in a seemingly endless ecosystem of programs, scripts, and functions.
- Good developers can translate your pathetic layman speak into a functioning piece of software. I always feel like I’m speaking to a mechanic about the sounds the car is making when I’m describing an idea or problem to a developer. Part of being an excellent developer means being able to communicate in simple terms the task at hand. This is a very rare trait, and when you find people that can do this you need to appreciate the value of it.
- Good developers will tell you when your idea is stupid. We all have stupid ideas, and the best developers will tell you when you are embarking on something you shouldn’t be. This will save you tons of time and regret, and you should not take offense to someone having the courage to tell you this. You should treat this as invaluable advice.
I should note here that you need to trust a developer before this is possible. Many sub-par developers will tell you things aren’t possible simply because they aren’t up for the task. This reaction is probably more common than the former, so it’s important to be aware of the distinction.
- Good developers want to solve the problem/do the project because it is interesting to them intellectually, not because of the money. Good developers are generally excellent thinkers. They are excited about discussing a project and figuring it out. Imagine if the workforce in general was like this! As someone who conducts many job interviews, developers tend to “get it”. They are people that enjoy thought exercises and challenges. They aren’t part of the segment that everyone complains about in the workforce.
- Good developers will make suggestions that you never thought of. From their unique perspective they have ideas that you would never have. These ideas can become incredibly valuable to your business and you wouldn’t get them from anyone else.
I’ll stop here before you accuse me of enlarging developer’s egos even more, but it takes big egos to do big things in this industry, so you shouldn’t be put off by this. The bottom line is that you must not take your developers for granted. They represent a unique asset to the business and are not necessarily “replaceable” like many other members of your company. So make sure you hug your developer and if that’s too weird, get them a good bottle of Bourbon!