Happy and Productive Developers: Motivating Developers

July 19, 2016

Developers produce their best work when they are motivated. What motivates developers? That can be very different depending on the developers. It is important to build a relationship with a dev and learn what motivates them. Let's look at some common motivators that can apply to most developers.


Developers motivated by money are never worth the money. Money is a very short term motivator. Devs that are primarily motivated by will cash change jobs frequently, and are usually the biggest complainers on the team.


Your marketing/strategy department is supposed to sell the customer on the product, but have you ever thought about selling the product to the person building it? I personally put in a lot more effort knowing what I'm building will make people's lives better. You should frequently remind developers the value they are adding to customer's jobs.

New Tech

Developers love getting to play with the new toys. I don't know any developers that want to be coding in .Net 4 in five years. Devs get excited about new shiny frameworks and existing tools getting upgraded. Do your best to provide them the opportunities to utilize them as soon as they are available.


Tasks for entry level developers are rarely any fun. They usually involve maintaining existing code or minor updates on multiple projects. These become tedious and boring over time. Few developers want to stay doing the same tasks forever . You should be transparent with what growth will be available if they do their work well.


Most developers I know are heavy introverts. They don't go out of their way to seek recognition from their peers. You can quickly boost their moral with some public recognition. One on one recognition can go a long way too. Simply saying "I like how you handled that challenge" can be priceless to a developer's esteem.

So what do you think? Do you think you'll need to move mountains to motivate your developers? I bet it will be worth the effort.

©2020 Daniel Worthy

Opinions are my own and do not represent the opinions of my employer.