The software industry changes extremely fast. As a result there is a need for companies to be highly mobile and have the ability to respond to customer requests or market changes in a fluid manner. It can feel like the organization is changing at the cost of the engineer, which can leave some software engineers feeling rather discouraged.

Why? Trust. There is a level of trust that must be present in all manager and associate relationships. This trust is one of the most important things in a company as it ultimately drives the quality and productivity of the associates. Many times, either correctly or incorrectly, software engineers feel that they are the first ones to do the heavy lifting but the last ones to get recognition for doing so.

Here are five things that will help to build trust in your developers:

1. Listen

Listen to everything and understand it before taking an action. Often developers tend to simplify for non-engineering team members, leaving out pertinent technical details. If something doesn’t quite make sense, ask for more information.

Listening is also important when it comes to project management. If a developer states that it will take one week to complete a project then it will likely take a week to do the project. Before requesting a shorter time frame, adding more people, or considering overtime, understand what went into the estimate. You simply can’t make time out of nothing and, as The Mythical Man-Month points out, adding more people to a software project will often increase the time it takes to reach completion.


2. Stick to your word

If you tell people something, stick to it. If you can’t stick to it, make every attempt to explain why and to make things right. This applies to everything from projects to job roles and responsibilities. Nothing builds credibility and trust like keeping your word.


3. Give recognition

Unless projects are marveled at because of their ingenious engineering, engineers are often the last to be thanked. At Benefitfocus we value design and engineering.  We also make it a priority to recognize the talents and efforts of the engineering teams. It’s amazing what a thank you can do.


4. Promote education

Engineering is a mental job. Most of what goes into designing and writing code takes place in a little box within the head of every engineer. When creating systems the complex relationships, object models and business rules all come together in a mental map that allows engineers to simply transpose their creation to the screen. By promoting education employers can not only further the abilities of their developers but allow them to sharpen their skills. As Stephen Covey points out in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the most fundamental things people can do is to sharpen the saw meaning, in a nutshell, take time to improve one’s self.


5. Foster downtime

Despite the public perception, software engineers are just as social as the rest of us/you. As with all people, downtime yields a refreshed, more content and better associate.