It is important for everyone within an organization to regularly evaluate where they are in their careers, what progress they have made, whether their goals still align with the company, and where they would like to be in the future. As a startup founder, it is important that you encourage this — particularly when it comes to your developer — to ensure the success and continuation of your company.

The role of the developer

It is important to understand that your developer likely plays a key role in your startup. In a larger company, they may have a key responsibility and skill set that could slow the company down if these are lost unexpectedly and would cost the company a great deal of time and productivity. In a smaller company, the impact of losing a member of a small team will even be greater. A great deal of the work I do revolves around helping these startups whose CTOs have left, to manage the company’s transition.

The mindset of the developer

Many developers are excited to start a new project and take on a new challenge. There is an adventure in creating something from nothing, a feeling of being a co-creator of something that is very satisfying. Once a product has been developed, sometimes developers lose that feeling of satisfaction, the challenge, and they may look elsewhere to find it.

Defining challenge for a developer

There are generally two things that present challenges for a developer: new technology and management opportunities. Both of these are paths you must look at when it comes to your startup. Do you see your product evolving to include innovative and more complex technologies? Will your company benefit from having someone with a technical background in a management position? If your answer to either questions is yes, even if these plans are far in the future, they are definitely something you might want to communicate with your developer so they can understand that your goals and theirs are aligned and that there is potential down the road for them to grow into a more challenging role.

Provide incentive and short-term reward

We all understand that it can be hard to wait for a final payout, so it is important to acknowledge employees and keep them motivated along the way. Forbes published an article on the value of encouraging and rewarding employees to take creative risks because, after all, innovation is what drives companies forward. Depending on the set-up of your company and the resources available, this could be financial reward, but it could also be recognition, something that simply lets the employee and everyone on the team celebrate the success.

The six-month check-in

It is important for a founder to really know their team – to know what they want, what they expect, how they view the company – to be able to understand and make use of any insights the best way to move forward or to solve challenges. The founder must also know what that developer wants for the future so that they can share their vision of how that person fits into future plans.

The best way to do this is in person and in a casual setting. Whether you take a walk, go for coffee, or something else, when you get away from the office to have some one-on-one time is when the real conversation takes place.

The bottom line is that as the founder, you should have a connection with your team. You must ensure from a business perspective that they are not only meeting the goals of the company but that they are also meeting their own goals, or else they will leave.

For more specific advice on this topic, check out my other blog posts: ‘Your CTO is leaving, what do you do?‘ and ‘How to evaluate your lead developer.’


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