How Can I Motivate Technical Co-Founders And Developers?

This question originally appeared on CoFoundersLabIs it my fault for not being able to motivate my co-founders?

Answer from Ruze Richards, Data scientist and former systems architect at Thomson Reuters.


From my perspective as a CEO/founder and a technologist/engineer, both sides typically have issues that the other side is either unaware of or insensitive to. This stems from both parties having little experience in being able to live, breathe and eat their co-founder’s side of the job.


On the business side, I can understand a CEO having a sense of urgency because the market seems to be moving away from them while their  business is standing still, possibly while waiting for an MVP. The CEO may have business acumen while his/her developers may not, so the CEO needs to communicate this to them and tell them why urgency matters.


On the technology side, it takes a lot of time and effort to get software working. Depending on the complexity of the product, it may be unrealistic to have a small development team produce a product in only a few weeks. Also, if these developers have full-time jobs or other projects, then they are unlikely to have the requisite energy to complete your task. This could lead to a task that, while complete, is underperforming.


As CEO, your primary job is to communicate with your co-founders and employees and establish/manage everyone’s expectations. It is their job to consider the time frames and provide ongoing feedback and status updates. If you establish continued communicate, then you will easily be able to determine if delays are the result of unfortunate realities or someone or some team that’s not pulling their weight.



Deciding to Replace Developers


Also, as CEO, it falls under your domain to decide if and when you need to replace developers. But here are two things to consider before you switch devs.

  1. Let’s face it: It’s not easy to find good developers, much less devs. who will work for free or for the cost of the electronic ink that their equity is printed on. They simply have too many stable options for making good money. And yes, it’s true: Startups have a much less than 10 percent success rate. It’s more like 3 percent, and good developers know this. So the job of bringing them on board with the correct expectations and roles is your responsibility.

  2. If your co-founders or employees aren’t fully loyal to you, it will dog you throughout everything your company does — not just for one project. This is something you need to seriously consider BEFORE you give away significant equity. If you are having second thoughts, you can’t give up; you need to try different approaches to motivating your team. If you’re able to do this, it’s far more cost-effective than hiring and training new developers or team members.

  3. Get involved and understand what it actually takes to make a product work within a given timeframe and resource allocation. Grasping this will help you not only develop as a manager, but also succeed as a founder.


Remember, blame is not important in situations like these. What matters is how you can unite people to succeed together. This is every CEO’s most important job.


Is it my fault for not being able to motivate my co-founders? originally appeared on CoFoundersLab — the place to connect, meet, and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs.



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