Provide the Why and How. Leaders need to constantly provide tasks that challenge their teams mentally while also ensuring they see how it’s connected to organizational goals. Take the time to explain why and how something is important for the team, the company, and potentially the individual.
For example, you could explain how a piece of work fits in with the company’s roadmap, why it’s helpful to the team, and what an individual contributor could gain from the experience. Increasing the speed of software delivery is a constant goal for every development team.
Individual contributors need to feel like their efforts are a part of large scale goals like reducing cycle time or driving towards major feature releases. You can create this sense of belonging and connectivity through improved communication and transparency. In your team ceremonies, communicating how tasks and sprints are driving to overall organizational goals builds purpose into developer work.
Make Room for Passion. Create space for individual contributors to work towards personal goals and learning that they already value. Host frequent hackathons that enable developers to work on projects they are passionate about. The creative hours can help leaders better direct their teams to tasks they’ll be more engaged with and, by extension, more productive.
Build from the start. The key is to build positive feelings of value, connection, and self-efficacy into projects for your engineers right from their onboarding. Even onboarding tasks are important and valuable and lay the groundwork for how new team members will learn to document processes, understand team communication styles, and begin to feel connected.