Developers and happiness: how to increase your developer group’s mojo

If you feel depressed and apathetic – you have probably lost your mojo; however, if it happens to the whole team of developers, it is a sign of a great problem. Usually, when something like this happens, companies and teams choose wrong tactics of tackling the issue.

Lots of managers involve developers in a new activity, thinking that changing scenery can improve the situation. They often provide new language courses, platforms, projects, and processes that often turn out to be simply a waste of time and money.

If you believe switching your ASP.NET developers to Node.JS, or PHP to Rails can boost their mojo, you are probably misled.

So, what can you do? Sociologists have conducted research that shows satisfaction and performance of the developer have a direct connection to the relationships with you. This theory is called Leader–Member Exchange (LMX), and let’s talk about how it can help you.

What can LMX theory offer you

At the beginning of the 80s, sociologists changed their understanding of organizational psychology. Back then, leadership theories were leader–centered, where all the fruits of success are provided by the leader.

Apart from the traditional leadership theory, they investigated the interrelationships of managers and workers and how it influences the success of the company. It resulted in a well–known LMX theory. It scrutinizes these interactions and their effect on the atmosphere, effectiveness, performance, ambitions, and drive to work.

Journal of Applied Psychology stated the relationships of boss and employee mirror the entire work process. So, a leader is an indicator of the work process. The relationships of you and your employees have a direct relation to the results you get.

Sociologists estimated there is an essential correlation between the way developers communicate with the leader and results they show and how satisfied they are to work there. Gallup states 70% of the performance shown by an employee depends or is correlated with the leader.

Here, the main emphasis is on communication between leader and developer, not only on the qualities of a leader. It can be considered good news for managers, as they now know how to make the communication in the team more effective, instead of creating a cult of an amazing leader. The key here is successful communication.