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Software developers: Stop, collaborate and listen

Published: June 1, 2022

Peter Drucker, the “founder of modern management”, once famously said, “What’s measured improves.” This is true for engineering and software development, and it’s something we take seriously when discussing the impact of Pluralsight Flow, our engineering insights platform. 

When you use a tool like Flow, you expect to see reporting about pull requests, active coding hours, and the process of pushing new features to customers. You might not realize that reporting in Flow extends beyond the expected—it also enables engineering leaders to see data on their teams’ communication. 

Working to improve the developer experience isn’t something you can do by simply finding more time for your employees to write code. You need to focus on the overall culture of your organization, how your teams work together on projects and tasks, and how you, as a leader, connect with your employees in ceremonies and beyond. There needs to be a focus on communication to holistically improve developer satisfaction and, by extension, your retention and productivity rates. 

Engineering success starts with communication

Communication can’t be an afterthought in software development. When leaders commit to improving communication, they’ll see reductions in wait time for feedback, improved responsiveness and reaction times and make better use of retrospective meetings discussing where gaps may arise. It’s why we built a Review Collaboration report into Flow. In fact, within Flow you’ll find several reports dedicated to improving communication for direct reports and the team at large. 

Recently, at the LeadDev NYC conference, Neha Batra, Senior Director of Engineering at GitHub, gave a presentation about how communication can—and should—be an expression of your team culture. She emphasized that as more communication is shared throughout the team and up and down the org chart, it builds transparency and trust. Honest mistakes and omitting facts in reporting are bound to happen, but if you work within a culture of communication, you can more easily understand and address them. If employees know their voices are heard and that collaboration drives organizational and personal success, they’ll be more likely to take part in team ceremonies. Communication begets transparency, which begets a more inclusive and helpful team.

A holistic approach to engineering insights

These reasons, and many others, are why Flow is such a valuable engineering insights tool. Seeing a spreadsheet of completed work is great, but what provides real value to software engineers and executives is seeing how that work gets done. Identifying where collaboration is thriving (or lacking) and comparing it over time drives sustainable success. 

An engineering team lead may be tasked with reducing cycle time or improving DORA metrics overall, but there’s a direct relation between those data points and your organization’s level of communication. How leaders show up for their teams and build open lines of communication is as critical as your coding languages and backend tools. 

Once you see the connection between communication and success, you’ll realize it’s just as important to measure that communication as anything else you’re tracking. Pluralsight Flow is the best tool to holistically approach your entire organizational process, from creating more instructive stand-ups and reducing cycle time to improving employee retention—and everything in between.