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5 ways to grow great developers instead of desperately looking for them

One of the most common phrases you hear from managers about lack of agile adoption in their team is 

We don't have that kind of 'super' developer here. We just have ordinary day folks - they can't handle it. And We can't seem to find anyone who can fit what we look for.

The real key to being a great leader is that if you do your job right, than you'll make your developers better and better  - you will grow them until they become the developers you wish you had

Grow your developers into their full potential and you won't have to seek anyone from the outside


I'm not saying it's easy.

As a team lead, helping people grow was one of the toughest things I've had to do. It got me way out of my comfort zone, and i had to do things I'd never imagined doing, but that means that I also  grew personally as a lead while growing other people.

Today I feel more confident than ever that given a team I can start my way to making the team a better team, instead of always looking to the outside.

How do you grow people?

 Here are the the headlines (i'll blog about each separately)


  1. Give them "Homework" about things that will make them better
  2. Take them (and yourself) out of their comfort zone
  3. Ask them to come up with multiple solutions to problems
  4. If you're not happy with someone's current state, be assertive about not accepting it and ask them to commit to be better (management by integrity)
  5. Implement code reviews and teach them to do them on their own


Of course, to get all these things going there are several simple conditions that have to be met first:



« Growing developers: Ask for solutions instead of giving them | Main | Announcing the Team Leadership Google Group »

Reader Comments (5)

I'd rather see a post like how to get your management a better management for now. But still good to find ideas how to get other members to seek for better quality. "how to make your ambitions contagious to your colleagues". "How to get your colleagues refuse mediocrity". Any idea? :)

September 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephane

3, 4 and 5 no comment. They are clear to me.
2 I didn't get this, I would appreciate more clarification.
About 1. I love it. I even would add Give some a homework and do it yourself as well. Give them training on interesting subjects -maybe yourself the leader- etc..
One problem with 1. Some people are really ordinary day folks! they come to work, earn money and that is it. They don't like homework that will make them grow. Or maybe they might consider it as side overtime work that their employer wanted them to do!
And at the end they might never be the ones I really wish them to be!
How can we convince them that this is just for them to make them better and in return this would be a benefit for their employer?

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMuhammad Mosa

Muhammed: I will expand on #2 in a seperate post. the idea is to give them tasks they are not used to doing, or afraid of doing. anything they don't feel comfortable with means they will learn something while doing it. for DB person - give them UI work for example. for UI devs, give them infrastructure etc...

September 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterRoy Osherove

@Roy, Thanks for the ideas! I didn't think of something like that actually. Because sometimes people would think of it as boring thing doing things they were not supposed to do or learn!
I had that feeling once, but I admit that after doing it I learned something new and I was happy that I did. Regardless of I liked the subject or not. But it had that effect on me. It made me do more research and development and learn more about the subject.
Thanks for the ideas

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMuhammad Mosa

Hi Roy.
Once again you wrote a post that is just as I wrote it, bravo!
I have gone this same path as you did. Yes it is way out of my comfort zone,
it's hard, it's time consuming ... and yes it pays off.
I don't think there is another successful path.

October 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVukoje

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