Why Ongoing Training Is So Important for Your Software Development Team

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Why Ongoing Training Is So Important for Your Software Development Team

There are a number of ways to make sure that your team is getting the latest and greatest in development education.

· Agile Zone ·
Free Resource

The effectiveness of your software development team depends on their training, education, and experience. But even if you hire them with ample development in each of these areas, you’ll remain stagnant as a team unless you encourage them to pursue ongoing training—or offer it internally to your entire staff.

But why is this ongoing training so important, and what steps can you take to offer it as efficiently as possible?

Motivations for Ongoing Training

These are just some of the most important individual and team benefits you’ll get by providing ongoing training:

  • Up-to-date knowledge. Developers worldwide are constantly pushing the limits of their knowledge (and the programming languages in which they work). Providing ongoing training helps ensure your developers’ existing knowledge never becomes obsolete—or if it does, that it’s immediately replaced with a new version.
  • Exposure to new ideas. New training and learning opportunities also expose your team to new ideas. They’ll see how other developers think and get a feel for the ideas they’re generating regularly. Over time, this will help them become better problem solvers and brainstormers, which can only benefit your organization.
  • Staff engagement. Don’t underestimate the importance of employee engagement. Engaged employees are much more productive than their unengaged counterparts. They’re also more loyal to their employer, which means you’ll see a much higher rate of employee retention. Giving your team additional training, education, and professional development opportunities can drastically increase employee engagement.
  • New standards and practices. Training and development fosters a mentality that change is a good thing, and encourages your employees to think outside the box. Accordingly, as you provide ongoing training, you’ll gradually refine your existing standards and practices, honing your team procedures in the process.

Methods of Training and Development

So which methods should you be using to train your team?

There are several options here.

Seminars by Senior Staff Members

If you have some senior developers who have years of more experience than your newest hires, you could potentially put them in charge of training and development. Work with them to plan a regular time for new education or training exercises, and make sure they stick to that schedule. For example, they might schedule an hour every Friday to teaching the team new tips and tricks, or challenging them with a new development exercise. Additional teaching materials, like printed booklets with lessons or semi-live apps, can make the experience even more immersive. As long as you’re all working toward the improvement of the entire team, it will be worth it.

Coaching and Seminars

You could also feasibly hire a coach to train your team or have them attend a seminar. This is sometimes advantageous over internal training procedures because no matter how experienced your senior level staff members are, there will be some things that they don’t know (or limitations in their perspectives). This can be a bit pricier than hosting all your training internally, but as long as you choose the right coach or the right seminar, the money will be well worth it. Consider networking with some of the professional developers in your area to discover some of the most valuable opportunities.

Classes and Homework

It’s also possible to incentivize your employees to take additional classes, or work on new problems and challenges as a kind of “homework.” You could offer reimbursement for expenses related to ongoing education, up to a certain amount, though there are plenty of resources where your employees could feasibly learn for free, like Codecademy and Coursera. Accordingly, it may be better to incentivize the acquisition of knowledge, like offering incremental raises when your developers master new programming languages, or reach key milestones in their ongoing education.

Encouragement of Personal Projects 

Most developers learned how to code because they were passionate about it. If you allow that passion to develop naturally, most of your employees will gravitate toward projects of their own, and will be excited to learn at their own pace. One of the best ways to encourage this is to allow your employees a few work hours during the week when they can work on personal projects, or ideas of their own. Google famously allows many of its employees to work on personal projects this way, and it has ultimately resulted in some of the most innovative and popular products the company has ever released.

How you choose to train your team is entirely up to you. Consider the preferences of your team members and the resources available to you, and choose the method (or even better, the combination of methods) that works best.

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