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What Does a Software Developer-First Culture Look Like?

A developer-first culture is one where the company understands that its developers are its most important asset and treats them accordingly:
  1. Where they feel valued and respected by their colleagues and management.
  1. A blame free culture, where they feel comfortable openly sharing ideas and admitting mistakes (and learning from them).
  1. Where they're trusted to do their job and not micromanaged.
  1. Where they're given enough time to do their job properly and given the tools and resources they need to be successful.
If you want to know if your developers truly are the Kings and Queens of your company, here’s a glimpse into the World of Developer Utopia:

It's OK to Screw Up Every Now and Then!

Developers embrace their blunders instead of pretending they didn't happen or, even worse, trying to hide them. When they goof up there's a sense of understanding and no-one's holding a grudge - mistakes are discussed openly and seen as an opportunity for learning.

Let Their Curiosity Run Wild

When developers feel secure, they're ready to take a chance, share ideas, and tell it like it is! They are encouraged to follow their curiosity, to ask questions, share their knowledge, and to speak up with ideas, concerns and questions - there's an understanding that no one will be humiliated for not knowing something or offering an unconventional solution to a problem.

Their Manager Owns Up to Own Flaws

Well, here’s the thing - no one is perfect, and if your leaders pretend to be,  your team will think they have to be perfect or else. When their manager acknowledges their own imperfections or shortcomings and is open and vulnerable, they’re more relatable, build bridges of trust, and inspire others to be curious, open, and honest, too.

No Growing Pains

Developers want to learn new skills and work with new technologies and have opportunities for growth. Providing the opportunity to do so with the company's generous (and wise) offer of ongoing educational and training opportunities is the perfect way to nurture their growth and development and give them the chance to move around and take on new roles within the company.

Trust Us, We Know What We're Doing!

Developers value their autonomy and want to know that they’re trusted to make the best decisions with their time. Developers don't need someone looking over their shoulder every second, they want to know that they have the freedom to do the job right.
If their manager just lets them go about their day without constantly hovering and nitpicking and micromanaging, it sends the message that they trust their judgement and have full faith in them. It creates a great work environment and it'll lead to a massive morale boost.

Their Manager Communicates Like a Pro

If you've ever had the great pleasure of dealing with a manager who can communicate effortlessly, give crystal clear direction, articulate why the team is doing something, offer a motivational pep-talk, and can be understood - you’ll know the difference it makes to the team - excellent communication saves time, prevents conflict and strengthens trust in a team!

Again, The Manager….

If your developers have a great manager, even when other things around them sucks - bad build, interruptions, chaos, they are somehow able to make it all okay. Good managers know that their developers are the bee's knees - always cheering them on, cheering them up, always having their back, and even taking the heat for their losses. Good managers understand that their developers need a good balance between work and play, have realistic expectations of them and crystal clear objectives and aims.
A developer-first workplace is one where they feel respected, valued, and appreciated, one which encourages growth and internal mobility, listens to developers, trusts them, and encourages a healthy balance between work and life. Of course, all this really starts with the managers - nothing is more important to company culture than having the right people in charge.
Annie Garland

Written by

Annie Garland

Co-Founder & Finance Director here at Lunem