As announced, this is the second part of the article series How To Choose The Right Software Development Company (part 1 here). This time, we will talk about the development of soft skills, gathering feedback and responding to it.
Soft skills are the skills that enable people to communicate effectively and interact with others. Business professionals looking for a development company should take interest in the level of soft skills of the software engineers they wish to work with as it will have an impact on the entire collaboration. Well-developed soft skills influence communication and overall understanding, which is one of the factors of steady progress and success of the project.
Soft skills growth
Soft skills are one of the aspects of growth that is more and more appreciated, also in the IT industry. This means everything that leads developers to easier communication with the outside world, stronger ‘vibing’ with others and becoming a better version of themselves every day. Growing soft skills does not require any technical or industry-related skills, but can influence what developers have to offer, making it complete and easier to comprehend for people. The paradox is that those who have amazing technical skills are often viewed as lacking something, just because they have weaker soft skills - this is why no one should underestimate the importance of this area.
Selleo encourages our programmers to develop not only their technical skills but also the soft ones. We help them to do so through various activities and supporting their initiatives.
It would be hard to imagine a programmer’s job without a constant effort to better the English skills - both in order to effectively communicate with the client and to faster acquire the necessary knowledge.
One of the typical solutions practised at Selleo are sessions with a native speaker during which developers have the chance to gain more confidence using the language, learn new words etc. It also gives them the opportunity to talk to somebody who does not understand their mother tongue, which is a great representation of the day-to-day job. The main goal of it is to make the software engineers feel as comfortable as possible when speaking English so they can share expertise and experience with clients and other team members.
Programming means constant learning - but the acquired knowledge is often ‘hoarded’ by those who are not comfortable sharing what they know with the world. This is why, as a company, we want to help the ‘diamonds’ shine on Selleo blog and Medium. Creating content is also a great way to build your own brand. To make it easier, we prepared a process supporting programmers while they work on turning their thoughts into a final, ready to publish artefact. This can be an article, video content, podcast or a presentation. Our content team researches the topic, assesses its marketing potential and possible reach (because there may be some things that people do not want to read?), conducts extra research, provides proof-reading and sometimes even prepares an early draft of the article based on the delivered synopsis. The team also handles publication and social media promotion. That way it is hard to find excuses to build an expert brand in the field.
The process itself may vary depending on the project, structure of the team or simply preferences. In practice, a well-working method is Scrum - which establishes some events during the process of creating software and ensures they are happening regularly. If used correctly, it makes completing goals and tasks more efficient. With an experienced Scrum Master, you can adjust elements of this methodology to the needs of a particular team and project in order to use it most effectively and sustain performance - even when working remotely.
By working with Selleo, you also gain access to an experienced Scrum Master that led many successful projects, introducing rituals like event storming, about which you can read more in Event Storming: How It Will Improve Your Business Processes?.
From my perspective, a real game-changer on any project is a meeting called ‘daily’. During this meeting, each team member once a day presents what he/she has been or is currently working on, what problems he/she faced and what are his/her further goals. To find out more about this meeting, read How to Run Remote Daily Scrum Meeting Effectively?.
Another nice element is a ‘retro’ meeting (retrospective) - when at the end of a given delivery period (so-called sprint), developers are able to discuss what went wrong, what can be improved in order to make the next project objective work better/be more efficient.
Want to know how to build a high-performance Agile team? Make sure to read How To Build High-Performance Agile Teams and How To Keep Your Remote Teams Agile During Crisis?
Soft skill workshops
Some people have a natural predisposition for public speaking, presenting their views or simply just a better understanding of another person (for example, thanks to strong empathy). Unfortunately, those skills cannot or are hard to be learnt, however, a workshop session where an experienced individual presents the mechanisms worth taking a closer look on can be super useful for soft skill growth.
In Selleo, we are often encouraged to practice soft skills by making presentations - a few tweaks in how we walk, use our hands, the tone of voice or just simply how the presentation is prepared can immensely help to build confidence and a better message to the viewer. Soft skill workshops should aim to lead to one thing - to aid developers in becoming better at public speaking and ‘selling’ their views. Of course, this takes practice and a fantastic coach that can turn an average guy into a rockstar (with a few exceptions). In reality, it is not that easy and usually means a lot of hard work, sometimes even years of it - but it is easier to achieve if the company fully supports such activities. Those are not only workshops on public speaking, but also, for example, how to better understand the team’s dynamic or how to build your own brand.
It is crucial for the overall success of the company to not sweep uncomfortable matters under the rug. A well-established business is open and willing to talk even when (and especially when) something is not right.
One of the ways to achieve complete transparency is by using tools like Feedback 360. Our developers can always, during a regularly held team meeting, say what they do not like about the other people’s behaviour. This form of confrontation, despite being very challenging, in the long run, leads to a better understanding of coworkers, fewer arguments, better atmosphere and work satisfaction. Check out How To Develop Custom Performance Management Software That Drives Employee Engagement if you are interested in creating software perfectly suited to feedback management and delivery.
This is a feedback management solution that we make use of in Selleo. You can find out more about the Merit Money project here
A more direct method of delivering feedback is one on one session where developers can express disapproval of another’s behaviour. The key point of feedback is to always refer to a specific situation - it has to be constructive so the other person knows how to avoid those unnecessary tensions. Inaccurate feedback can lead only to an increase in the conflict instead of creating solutions. More about this, in the post Feedback as a tool for self-improvement.
Tools that not only give us feedback on what we do right and wrong but also, thanks to their structure, lead us to follow some rules and values, are satisfaction surveys. For a company, they are a source of information whether it is on the right path. For the team leader, they give crucial information about the state of the team and their feelings towards the leader. For the people in key positions, surveys are a source of information on whether the tasks are well executed. Selleo takes into account metrics (KPI) and conducts this type of questionnaire regularly, so we can see the ongoing trends. It does not mean that we always have to be with a 10/10 perfect score. It means that we are able to observe the trends and react when they are changing. Both in a negative/downward way as well as in a positive/upward way. It also gives us a signal that, whatever it is that we are doing, is heading in the right/wrong direction and we should start acting accordingly.
Another great tool is also a self-assessment survey where developers can assess themselves, for example, if they meet the expectations of the community. You can read about one of those solutions in the book The code. The evaluation. The protocols by Jacko Willink.
This is usually a domain of the most experienced, but sometimes also those less who are not afraid of challenges. We believe that companies should also encourage and support various workshop activities on the client’s site. Those types of activities are building not only the developer’s confidence, strengthening the expertise in the client’s eyes as well as positively influencing relationships with them.
Company’s willingness to take care of organizing such a trip shortens the way to actually running this workshop. Successful companies should be ready to support activities that can help strengthen the business from the client’s perspective.
It is hard to imagine an IT company that is not involved in event organization. It is a perfect way to build a brand but also give growth opportunities to the employees - opportunities to develop presentation, marketing or network building skills. Our developers love attending (and organising) various conferences and meetups not only to learn about technology, meet new people but also, have fun. Here are some examples of events Selleo participates in or co-organizes.
Mikstura.IT - one of the events addressed to multiple technologies, not only from ‘the hardest’ side but also as a connector for many of them. During this event, attendees discuss topics like programmer’s skills, security or virtual reality. This is an example of an event with a holistic approach to the industry, which bonds it together and opens up brains to other IT branches.
Meetups - from their very definition have a more casual form of meetings for people interested in a specific topic/technology. Those, often small, meetings after work with a beer in hand, allow network building, exchanging ideas, discussing various topics (through brainstorming sessions) or eating something delicious (usually there is catering available during our meetups or they are held in local bars). They are all about mixing business with pleasure - informal and formal IT. Examples of meetups that we helped to organize, with pictures and videos, you can check out at EmberBB or MeetJS Bielsko-Biała.
BBDays4.IT - the third type of events in our industry. It is one of those ‘serious’ ones. And it does not mean that everybody is wearing suits - it means it’s a serious affair that requires months of coordination, often involving many companies and public institutions involved to reach a common goal. BBDays4.IT is a perfect example. It showcases businesses from Bielsko-Biala and nearby cities and also (or maybe above all), the city itself as an amazing place to live and grow this branch of the economy in.
Together with the event Kariera w górach (Career in the mountains), they promote the region as an amazing place for building a local community. Co-organization of such a big event is at another level. The audience reaches 1000 people making it a great logistic challenge. It’s an opportunity to meet people coming from different parts of the country or even the world. What is more, the event is supported by the local government together with the City President, which adds even higher grade to it all. Companies that take part in the event speak with one voice, loud and clear - yes, we are proud to operate here and this is the place we want to develop our industry in.
It also gives a chance to compare what each company has to offer thanks to open days and other branding activities. This healthy battle for potential candidates, without any insecurities, says a lot about the businesses involved.
Behind every successful business stand satisfied employees. That is why it is crucial for companies to support their employees and help them grow. There are a variety of strategies and methods that can be used in order to create an environment of acceptance, encouraging engagement as well as personal and professional development.
Especially in the IT industry, it is crucial that software engineers continue to develop both their hard and soft skills. The years of experience and many happy employees strengthen Selleo’s belief that investing in people means investing in the overall well-being of the entire company. We constantly strive to better ourselves, starting from the owners, CEOs and management and ending with junior developers. We pride ourselves in saying that working with Selleo means co-creating an engaged community that supports growth every step of the way.
So if you are looking for an experienced development partner with qualified engineers that love what they do and believe that teamwork is the way to victory, feel free to contact us. We are excited to hear about your project and help you create a profitable solution.