5 Reasons Why Upskilling Your Dev Team Is Critical for Growth

Stay ahead of the competition by upskilling your dev team. Discover how critical upskilling is to team success and efficiency, driving cost savings. By Marin Bencevic.

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From Internet of Things through AR all the way to AI, the tech world is in constant flux, with new technologies and processes emerging every day. Staying ahead is vital for dev teams — and as a manager, it’s your responsibility to help your teams keep their skills sharp. Empowering your team with the right skills prepares them to tackle future challenges effectively and helps your employees and the company at large meet any challenges the future may hold head-on.

Prioritizing upskilling brings numerous benefits, from boosting employee retention and cost-effectiveness to enhancing product quality and efficiency. This article aims to expand on those benefits and provide a more in-depth understanding of why it’s important to invest in upskilling your team and encourage your developers to grow.

What You’ll Learn

  • How upskilling your dev team leads to fresh perspectives and innovative solutions that improve software quality.
  • How developers with diverse skill sets can communicate more effectively with different teams.
  • Why deepening knowledge through upskilling empowers developers to work more efficiently.

Almost all jobs have evolved over time, and developers are no exception. So, before you invest in upskilling your dev team, it’s good to know what benefits you can expect as a result. Let’s see what they are.

Enhancing App Quality

Giving developers access to cutting-edge technologies and the opportunity to improve their skills empowers them to take a more creative approach to their tasks. As a result, they tend to come up with more efficient and more elegant solutions in their work.

For instance, you can encourage employees to develop skills on multiple platforms and frameworks. Platforms are silos of great ideas. A skilled iOS developer knows their tools very well, but might not realize what the tools available in the Android ecosystem can accomplish. With enough knowledge, your developers can pick and choose great concepts and practices, even outside of their usual domains.

As an example, SwiftUI is a relatively new declarative UI framework, while React has existed since 2013. iOS developers who also know React can take advantage of all of the knowledge the React community has built up over the years without having to reinvent the wheel in SwiftUI.

I started my iOS development journey by learning Swift 1. Even though I was a newbie, I still had something to offer to other teammates who only knew Objective-C. In turn, they were much more experienced in both iOS and general development. This situation was mutually beneficial and resulted in a very easy transition to Swift for the company.

It’s also a good idea to upskill your dev teams by providing the opportunity to learn topics adjascent to their main focus, such as system design, software architecture, algorithms, and even soft skills.

Developers can sometimes develop engineering tunnel vision, where they focus on interesting problems but forget about the product’s more general goals. By fostering versatility through upskilling dev teams, you ensure that your developers are clear thinkers who can zoom out and look at the big picture.

Moreover, the awareness of what goes into your teammates’ work makes it easier to appreciate coworkers, which is an upskilling benefit we cover in the following section.

Fostering Cross-Team Collaboration

Happy dev team studying together

Making sure your developers always keep the big picture in mind offers not only improves productivity, it also boosts collaboration. An iOS dev who knows Android will have an easier time communicating with Android teams and understanding their problems, for instance.

Platforms have their own vocabulary, and sometimes two developers will talk about the same thing without even realizing it because they use different platform-specific terminology. By knowing more than one platform, developers will understand the challenges of accounting for device fragmentation, or know the right terminology to explain their problems and opinions.

The same applies to the collaboration between developers and designers.

The stereotype about designers and developers clashing because of differing priorities is a common one: The designer will painstakingly create an app interface, only for the developer to omit crucial elements of the design in the final product.

Or, the designer will expect last-minute fixes from the developer, unaware of how time-consuming they actually are.

To make sure that such occurrences remain no more than stereotypes, it’s a good idea to upskill your dev teams by ensuring they learn the fundamentals of design, such as color theory and the basics of layout and typography.

Understanding someone breeds empathy. Having empathy for your coworkers is crucial not only for shipping great products but also for the well-being of everyone involved in building your products.

Boosting Employee Retention

I left my first dev job when I was assigned to create a login screen for what felt like the hundredth time. Had I been offered opportunities to learn new things, I’d likely have stayed.

Data shows I’m not alone. In this Pulse survey, the desire to try out new tech and growth opportunities, when combined, surpass even better pay as the most cited reason why developers are open to leaving their current jobs.

A StackOverflow Survey result bar chart showing that growth and new technologies combined are more important than better salary.

Source: Stack Overflow

Moreover, it’s common knowledge that onboarding a new employee costs a company more than the efforts to retain them. Investing in upskilling your dev teams should be a no-brainer.

So, challenge your developers and give them the opportunity to apply their skills to a variety of projects. But don’t just blindly force your devs to take company-mandated courses.

Work with them to create a roadmap for upskilling, from establishing goals to obtaining crucial resources — or even putting them in touch with other professionals who excel at the skills they’re interested in developing.

When the developers see their managers not only understand the importance of upskilling in tech, but also have their professional growth at heart, they’ll be more willing to stay with the company.

Increasing Employee Efficiency

The more knowledgeable a developer is, the more efficient they can be, cutting down on research time and resources needed to complete the project.

For instance, even though I used Git every day, only after reading Git Apprentice did I actually understand the commands I was writing. The knowledge from that book got me out of a huge number of sticky Git situations that could have wasted hours of working time for me and for my team members.

Similarly, when I bought books and attended courses about statistics and started digging deeper, instead of flailing around on Google for every line of code, I was able to leverage my theoretical knowledge to understand the steps necessary to take to build machine learning models. The rest was just looking up function names in the documentation of the framework I was using.

In short, your team will benefit from learning opportunities, just like I did. All the knowledge your developers obtain — even in areas that seem irrelevant at first — will help them complete their tasks quickly and efficiently.

I think of problem solving as feeling around for the exit of a room in pitch darkness. Any piece of furniture you bump into helps you orient yourself more easily and find the exit. If you have wide knowledge, your brain will naturally bump into more stuff on its way to solving a problem.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in courses and other resources that will foster your developers’ professional development. These skills will lead to cost savings and other direct benefits of upskilling for business success.