The problem of leaving the developer. How to reduce the risk of a developer leaving?

Sooner or later, everyone will leave.

You just have to put up with it, and you have to be ready for it.

But we also need to try to stretch this period as much as possible for key people.

Leaving a good programmer is bad, because:

  • he knows a lot and closed a lot of things on projects
  • only he supported some code in projects, i.e. it will be very difficult for others to support it, just as effectively (it is clear that it is bad when some code has one owner, but in reality this is a frequent problemation). 
  • finding an adequate replacement is very difficult, long and painful
  • you have invested a lot in training this person, so this is a loss of some investment for you

What can be done to reduce the risk of a key person leaving? 

  1. Don't find fault with him and don't let others find fault with him. 

This is extremely important and no amount of money will help keep a good specialist if you or some harmful conflicting customer constantly bales him.

It is necessary to ensure maximum psychological comfort for a person. If he is burdened by being in the workplace, you will lose him very quickly.

You do not need to dance in front of him, but at least you need to respect the person, take into account his opinion, give some freedom of action and trust him.

  1. Give creative freedom. 

The very best executors want to create, they want to create something new, they want to do something meaningful, and not just poke around in someone else's shit code (even for very big money).

Programming, design, web analytics, etc. are all creative specialties, not just a craft. We want to see a significant result of our efforts, and not another day of bug fixes that no one needs.

For the best people, let's give new interesting tasks, explain why they are needed and why it will be cool to implement it into the system.

A person who feels a contribution to a common cause associates himself with this business, and not just a mercenary who worked, received money and went on to look for a job. 

  1. Have open expectations about work, salary, direction of development. 

The more open relationship you have with a person, the easier it is to catch this moment when a person wants promotion, development, etc. He will just come and tell about his vision.

Of course, there will be such executers who will use this and constantly beg for a salary increase at any opportunity. For example, someone quit, there are not enough people on the project, and then one of the main developers, realizing that they can't let him go now, starts hinting about a promotion, otherwise he will look for other options. Usually such a developer does not understand that business is always more mature in such matters and has more experience than one developer. 

Most likely, he will receive some kind of increase in the PO, but he will lose the trust of the management, and at any opportunity he will simply be replaced or put figuratively on the farthest section.

It is much better when a person says what he wants to have, and you think together how you can come to this. 

  1. Don't work with assholes

The more assholes there are in the company, the less chances there are for good executors to stay there (especially with a creative streak).).

Try to avoid asshole clients. Dismiss those who show asshole habits towards others.

Who is an asshole in my understanding: 

  • the one who puts himself above others
  • who is constantly trying to manipulate colleagues by misleading them
  • who is constantly busy covering their ass, and not moving the project forward
  • who renegotiates agreements unilaterally to please themselves and ignores the general agreed rules

It's more difficult with clients - you can't get them out of business so easily. In this regard, we adhere to this strategy - we finalize what is needed for the project, and then simply do not take on new obligations, switching such a client to another contractor.

With experience comes an understanding of who you are communicating with - you need to notice negative markers from the first minutes of interaction with the client. If there are too many of them, abandon the project.

The loss of main developer costs more than any problematic client. Tested on personal experience.

  1. Intangible resources associated with the company. 

It can be the hours worked in the company, or the number of tasks done. A person can hang for a long time in the ranking of TOP developers. After leaving the company, he will lose this position as a result. This can be an important factor in making a decision.

The key point here is that it should not be something easily worked out. This should be achieved over the years. And it should give privileges or bonuses.

We didn't work it out enough at home, but I was obliged to indicate this as a method of retention, because it would have affected me as well..

There are times when you can't keep a programmer in any way. They offered him, for example, 2 times more salary than you can afford.

In this case, wish him good luck, write a good review and leave the possibility of future cooperation.

Do not swear with anyone in any case. It's stupid, irrational. Maybe the person will come back (give him an understanding that he is always welcome here), maybe he will recommend someone to you - good people bring good people. 

An important point is that a person can help for some time in solving problems in your projects, where he played a key role.

By abruptly cutting off ties with a person, you greatly increase your risks - there is no one to solve complex problems, other developers see how you treat the departed (i.e. in the future this will also apply to them).

Finally, collect feedback from the person without trying to keep him with tricks:

  • why did he leave in the end?
  • what is good about our company?
  • what's wrong?
  • who did he enjoy working with from the team?
  • what was missing in the work?
  • what could have influenced his decision to stay in the company?

By conducting such a retrospective, a person can realize what he is losing. The new company is unknown, there are pros and cons. Here everything is familiar - and there is the unknown. It is quite possible that the person in the answer to the last question will indicate the path to a mutual agreement. 


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