Unique Ways Your Developers Can Dramatically Improve Their Programming Skills

You might be surprised how easy it is to help your software engineers improve their craft.
March 4, 2022
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Programming requires a lot of different skills. Not only do you have to solve problems, but you also have to think ahead, work from behind, stay on deadlines, be constantly learning new methods, and always have management breathing down your neck to get things done.

Anyone that’s worked in the world of programming long enough will tell you how challenging it can be. They’ll also remind you that one requirement is to always be finding ways to improve your skills. That’s all fine and good until the usual methods of learning fail you.

That happens more often than you think. And when that eventuality befalls your developers, your business can stall. How do you avoid such an outcome? You don’t come down hard on your developers (at least not if you hope to retain their services). Instead, you approach this issue with a different tactic.

There are plenty of unique ways your developers can improve their skills. If you find they are struggling, here are a few possible options you can share to get them over this hump.

Teach Programming

Nothing improves one’s skills more effectively than when forced with the reality of having to teach those skills. In order to effectively teach something, you have to fundamentally understand how that something works. 

You could suggest your developers do a lecture series on a particular skill, do a Ted Talk, or even teach children the basics of programming. One issue we so constantly neglect is going back to the basics. When you do this, you often find you’ve been doing something wrong or have strayed away from best practices. When your developers retrain themselves to adhere to those correct methods, something will click and the floodgates to improvement will open.

Even if this doesn’t turn into immediate returns of improvement, it could (at least) rekindle a fire in the belly of your engineers (which, in turn, could lead to improvement).

Find a Podcast

People love a good podcast. They are easy to consume, often educational, and sometimes entertaining. You might want to curate a list of developer-related podcasts and suggest your developers listen to them on their breaks or time off.

While listening to a podcast, your engineers might discover a new way of handling an old task, learn about some new language or feature in their current language, see how technology is advancing (and which of those advancements could help your company). 

If you (or your developers) can’t find a fitting podcast, have them start one. Hosting a podcast is a great way to force yourself to understand what it is you’re talking about.

Engage With the Community

There’s a vast community of developers out there to engage with, many of which will have some pretty great tips to share. When you encourage your software engineers to engage with the development community at large, you’re not only helping them find ways to improve their skills, but you get the added benefit of those employees networking with other developers. So you could not only help those engineers improve their craft, you might wind up with possible new hires.

Because the development community is so vast, this could be a great way for your developers to connect with offshore engineers that you might not have previously known about. That’s a win-win.

Work Puzzles

This might sound silly, but puzzles are a great way to improve memory, problem-solving skills, visual-spatial reasoning, increase IQ, increase attention to detail, and lower stress. All of those things are key to improving the skills required for programming.

If you have developers in-house, keep puzzles of all kinds in the office and encourage your developers to take time and work on them.

Revisit Past Failures

Most people look at failure wrong. Failure is not a reminder of something not achieved, but of a possibility to learn. You should encourage your developers to revisit the projects that failed. With fresh eyes, they might not only realize why they were unsuccessful but also discover a way to make them succeed.

That kind of education is priceless. Not only does it offer the opportunity to resurrect an old project, but gives your developers a massive boost of confidence that can fuel them into a bright future.

Read Other Developers Code

Sometimes developers can bury their heads in the sand of their own code such that they only understand how they do things. There’s a world of value in learning how other people approach the same type of task. So why not encourage your developers to find other projects and other developers to study. As they comb through code written by someone else, they’ll have many an “Ah-ha” moment, where they either learn how to (or how not to) do something new. That’s an invaluable means of improvement.

Do the Impossible

Challenge your developers to start a project you are certain they can’t complete. It’s important that this type of project not be something your business depends on, but more a pet project that can serve as a distraction from the grind of never-ending deadlines.

Oftentimes developers flourish within a challenge. And when you tell them something cannot be done, you can be sure they’ll do their best to prove you wrong. Maybe this is an AI project that you’d eventually like to get rolled into your current business pipeline, so it would be a great way to get a head start on it.

Get Zen

Finally, growth rarely happens when our minds or hearts are clogged with stress and pressure. You should always encourage your developers to “get zen.” There are plenty of books on the subject, such as “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” that can help your developers at least learn the concept of “zen” and what it can do to the mind and body.

Once your developers can free their minds of some of the clutter of everyday life, they’ll find existence and growth comes much more easily.

Conclusion

It’s imperative that your developers improve their skills. If your programmers become complacent, so too will your company’s growth. Don’t let this happen. With just the smallest bit of encouragement, you can help your development team dramatically improve their skills, which will, in turn, benefit your company in ways you might not yet have dreamed of.

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