people first software developers working together

Three perspectives on a people first software development culture.

People first software development businesses know their value proposal is about much more than code.

No matter what business you’re in, a half-baked approach to talent management and product development gets you nowhere.

This wisdom comes from a surprising source: software developers. Many people associate software development with banks of computers and line after line of code. But software exists to serve people. And great software development teams are built around an appreciation for people.

So if you want to truly stand out, think like a software developer: Put people at the center of everything you do.

Start with the customer perspective.

We’ve all had that awkward moment of repeatedly and fruitlessly pushing a door, only to be told, “Pull” This is called a Norman door: It’s a “pull” door that looks like a “push” door, or vice versa. According to design experts, you, as the user, aren’t the one who should be embarrassed for getting it wrong. It’s the designer’s fault.

After all, humans design doors for humans, and designers shouldn’t be creating simple products that people don’t readily understand how to use. Prioritizing aesthetics, for example, over functionality simply misses the point of a door.

This same principle applies to software—great developers know writing good code isn’t good enough. Having a basic understanding of basic human psychology is essential to developing killer software. A user-friendly interface is more important than the very best bells and whistles ever devised.

Never sacrifice the user experience in favor of virtual party tricks.

No matter what you’re creating, never forget who it’s for. If you don’t keep the human in mind, you’re going to end up with a product they can’t use.

Strike a balanced talent perspective.

It’s easy to understand the allure of recruiting fresh college grads. They’re young, eager to prove themselves, and know just enough to get started. Plus, they’re much cheaper—and arguably easier—to hire than experienced, senior-level employees.

In fact, most software developers have a deep bench of recent grads working for them. After all,
nearly 20% of software developers are under 25 years old. But relying too heavily on junior talent is unsustainable.

Leaders know they need a blend of experience, wisdom, and fresh energy to set themselves apart. Highly strategic, custom work that solves unique problems is the path to profitability. And it’s the kind of work that requires experience. So developers are mindful about developing senior experts for challenging projects and for development of juniors.

One of your most important strategic levers is to develop the optimal ratio of senior and junior

The happy employee/happy customer perspective.

This philosophy is simple: If you treat your employees well, they’ll treat customers well. As a result, your company will grow. Pro tip: it also happens to be the basis for an extraordinary marketing strategy.

Look no further than the world of kibble and catnip for the perfect case study. Chewy, the e-commerce pet supply giant, has a reputation for providing incredible customer service. It’s no coincidence that it’s also ranked #12 among big companies with the happiest employees.

Chewy treats its employees with respect and compassion, which motivates them to extend that same kindness to every customer. Their strategy has paid off: The company has seen dramatic growth since its inception in 2011.

Even with Chewy’s roaring success on the national stage, many leaders refuse to follow in their footsteps. There are plenty of companies who still use fear and draconian tactics to motivate their workers. It’s a sad reality for those beleaguered employees. And it gives you a clear shot at a competitive edge.

Create a people first software development culture

The best technology in the world won’t help produce happy, satisfied, motivated employees without the right company culture. Effective software development leadership places high priority on creating an environment where team members are encouraged to contribute ideas.

And a lackluster response to suggestions can quickly derail the brainstorming process.

Show them you’re always open to ideas. Forgive failure quickly and inspire their people to dust
themselves off and try again.

In this type of environment, employees don’t make choices based on fear or self preservation. They can bring their best selves to the table. The result is truly high-quality software—and highly satisfied customers.

No matter what business you’re in, you can emulate this same approach. Fearful employees will simply fly under the radar. Employees who feel trusted and respected soar higher than you could imagine.

Software excellence begins with excellent people.

At Harmonic, we understand that when a company hires us for a software development project it’s an act of trust. It means trusting us to prioritize needs, think about the client’s customers, and put our best people on the job.

We’re incredibly proud of the people working here. We put a lot of energy into hiring the best and creating a space where they can flourish. The result is excellent software that makes your life easier and helps you fulfill your mission.

If you’re looking for a people-centered software developer, look no further.

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