“Train people well enough so that they can leave. Treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.” — Sir Richard Branson
Budgets are tight these days and managers are expected to do more with less at every turn. The thing is, budgets are always tight. In all my years of managing developers, I was never given a blank check for a project or a department budget. It was my job to prioritize spending.
One thing I learned early on was that finding qualified developers was hard. The next lesson was that recruiters were expensive. Finding a good developer who fit on my team was a difficult and expensive process. Losing a developer to another company hurt. Not only had I invested time and money to hire them, but if they had been with the company more than a year, they held institutional knowledge that if not captured, would be lost.
I came to a decision early in my management career: I was going to invest in training, therefore investing in the health of my project, by training my developers. Over the years that has taken different forms.
- Some teams had a “Brown Bag” Lunch program. Once a week we all ate together while someone presented. (These days, it’s much easier just to watch a video.)
- Some teams would send a couple of developers to a conference to learn. Never just one, at the very least two. If we sent only one we were back in the same situation of “if they leave, everything is lost.”
- Some teams claim, “The best thing we ever did was get everybody off-site for a long lunch to blow off steam, and share thoughts.”
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer. You have to look at your team, your projects, and your budget.
Of the three ideas presented above, the one that brought the most energy into the team was sending a couple of developers to a conference. They came home energized, full of new ideas, and with potential solutions for roadblocks we were facing as a team.
By sending two, not one, we made sure that to spread my investment around. The two compared notes on different sessions. They sat in the evenings and discussed things they had learned and taken notes on. Most importantly though, they bonded. These were two individuals who, while they worked together, had not really formed any sort of bond. They came back from the conference with a friendship that helped the entire team.
If you are looking for ways to help energize your team, to build esprit de corps, and yes, to level up your team’s knowledge, send two or three of your developers to ZendCon 2017. They will learn the latest in PHP development techniques from the best the PHP ecosystem has to offer.
Even better, bring two or three of your developers with you to ZendCon 2017. You benefit from the immersion in the ecosystem, they benefit from the learning and inspiration opportunities, and in the evenings you can all gather to discuss what was learned, and how it can be applied to your existing projects.
Make ZendCon2017 your team’s next off-site. Register now, blind bird pricing ends May 31.
p.s. Oh, if you only send two developers to ZendCon this year, don’t make the mistake of only sending your senior developers. Send one senior developer, but then send one person you think will be your next senior developer. Invest in the future of your team as well as its present.