To be a good software developer you need far more than just programming skills. Whether you’re a freelancer temporarily collaborating with companies remotely or you work in a SaaS company or a software house, building software is a group effort where people need to interact with each other. Even though it’s a tech occupation, and specific measurable abilities are most important, you need to have some basic soft skills to work effectively in a team of several members.
An ability to understand and predict the emotions of others is a very useful tool in many ways. For instance, being empathetic is important when it comes to understanding users. Software is meant to make people’s lives easier. To respond to their actual problems, you need to understand them at every stage of developing a product. At the same time, there is no healthy and productive team without empathy. The ability to imagine how your colleagues may feel before you express your reaction can be very important at the stage of brainstorming solutions to approach a problem. Make sure to give feedback the way that no one feels judged because it can make people hold back from sharing their thoughts. This can affect the creativity of the whole team. Every idea is worth sharing, even a bad one. As long as it is discussed and thought through, it can be a source of interesting conclusions reassuring you that the path that you chose is a good one.
You’d have to be really lucky to always work in a completely homogenous group of people and agree with everyone on everything. A team is always a mixture of diverse personalities, temperaments, origins and views. Working in a team of developers, designers, testers and other experts, everybody focuses on the aspect that they specialize in and it’s a natural process. While back-end developers will stress the significance of the core logic of the system and sometimes underestimate the importance of UX, designers are likely to do the opposite at times. It’s a common psychological mechanism that when we care about something a lot, we tend to think that it should be equally meaningful to everyone. However, for a team to be productive, we shouldn’t let disagreements lead to frustration. You should be confident and assertive but getting carried away with your emotions can never end well. In order to keep calm and self-possessed when you feel that you are getting annoyed it's good to remind yourself what your job in the process is and stick to the tasks that need to be completed.
This one seems too obvious and it’s been discussed for ages now, but many of us still seem to forget the basics of it. Good communication is a fundament of every relationship between people. And when there’s a bunch of intelligent, self-driven technical experts who are working on a project with strict requirements and tight deadlines, it can get stressful at times. Even though every team should have a leader to set goals and moderate interactions between its members, everyone should stick to these basic rules. Listen! Make sure not to overwhelm people with your ideas and let them share their thoughts too. In a group of a few individuals, you should do more listening than talking for the conversation to make any sense. Besides letting people speak and hearing the words they say, it’s important to actually pay attention to what they are talking about and show them that you care. Even if you don’t agree. Speaking of speaking - let your colleagues finish and don’t interrupt. No matter if you are a senior dev, talking to a junior, show respect and let everyone contribute. Also, keep in mind the language that you use. In your day-to-day work, you will not only speak to other developers but also project managers and clients. Put yourself in their shoes and make sure they understand you because if they don’t, it’s likely to eventually affect everyone.
Cutting corners is usually a bad thing, but let’s look at it from a bit different perspective. Sometimes it pays off to take your time conceptualizing how to approach a problem, and really be sure of the solutions that you want to implement, rather than move on to writing code right away. It surely saves a lot of time in the long run. To keep your code sustainable and easy to maintain, it’s good to keep things simple and minimize the number of entities such as classes, methods, functions etc. Software development is not only about whether it works or not, but also about how it performs and if it’s understandable to others. You should always keep in mind that one day another developer is going to take over your work, so you should stick to the commonly respected good practices and not only to your own ideas based on your gut feeling.
Regardless of the industry, empathy, self-possession, good communication and taking your time figuring out the solutions to problems are things worth keeping in mind. They might not only maximize team effort and effectiveness but can simply make your life easier and your work more pleasant.