Many of the developers I know have been programming since they were in junior high. Whether it was building text-based games on an Apple IIe or creating a high school football roster app in Visual Basic, it’s something they did for the challenge, for the love of learning new things and, oh yes, for the chicks. Ladies love a man who can speak BASIC to his Apple.
College graduates face a sad reality when they leave the protective womb of a university and have to get their first real job. Many of my friends found jobs paying around $25k out of school, and were amazed that the starting engineering and computer science salaries were nearly double that. But the majority of the engineers in my class didn’t become engineers for the money; we did it because it touched on a deep inner yearning to tinker and impress their friends. And did I mention the chicks?
Money is a motivating factor for most of us, but assuming comparable pay, what is it that makes some companies attract and retain developers while others churn through them like toilet paper?
Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to compensate your people appropriately as well, but ask your developers if they have any side projects and you’ll probably find that the best ones have some exciting side projects going on that they’re doing to learn something new, give back to the community or just to help someone out. This is the list of how you can tap into that energy at the office and get the most out of your developers.