Quality engineers are crucial to company success, especially if you’re competing primarily on product excellence (we compete on our differentiated conference call and online meetings solution, so the quality of our product offering is paramount). However, building an engineering team is a challenge, as is retaining these engineers once you’ve recruited them. This is a challenge we’re very familiar with at LoopUp. Our product development team is based in San Francisco, a highly competitive market for engineering talent, where developers are in monstrously short supply. Despite this, over the years we’ve managed to recruit talented engineers, and have figured out a way to get our team productive and motivated without losing team members to our neighbors in the Bay Area, whether they be attractive by dint of being a big household name, big spenders, offering something to work on that is, on the surface, more ‘exciting’ than conferencing(!), or some combination of the above. In fact, we’ve not lost a member of our Dev Team in 6 years, which is no mean feat.
So, while we would in no way pretend to have all the answers – and we certainly struggle with the same clashing priorities and overworked teams as everyone else – there are a few lessons that we’ve learnt that may prove useful to our brothers and sisters in arms of entrepreneurial struggle.
Michael Hughes, our co-CEO responsible for LoopUp’s product development and platform operations worldwide, has written a great article in Entrepreneur outlining 5 ways to keep your engineering talent from jumping ship. I highly encourage you head over to Entrepreneur to read the article in full, but if you don’t have time to do so, the key takeaway (which is perhaps applicable to all employees, and not just developers) is that it’s crucial to align incentives so that what you need to do as a company is aligned with what everyone wants to do, while still having fun along the way. So, for example, tying in development requirements to business needs so that developers are working on tasks that directly contribute to a measurable business goal that in turn contributes to the growth of the company. In our case, this may be to task developers on redesigning the customer account area (= task) to increase the number of users who view a live readout of their conference calls (= business goal) to increase knowledge and appreciation of our product differentiation, thus increasing customer stickiness (= growth of the company).
Take a look at the article over at Entrepreneur.com for more concrete suggestions on retaining your engineering talent, and comment below if you have any other successful tactics for retaining engineering talent!