Ensuring engineers are proud of their work and employer

This final post in our four-part series on fostering belonging at work focuses on building a feeling of alignment between engineers and your organization and helping ensure they feel proud of the work they’re doing. 

Being proud of your organization’s values and purpose

When you’re proud of your work and your organization, there’s a gained feeling of alignment with its purpose, vision, and values.

In addition to encouraging engineers to keep an accomplishment journal and demo their work to the wider company, there are other ways engineering managers can help ensure engineers feel proud of their work and their workplace including:

  • Celebrating Customer Feedback

In many workplaces, engineering is detached from customer service and customer feedback isn’t readily shared.  Engineers spend a great deal of time building out features that they hope will positively impact customers only to ship the work, hear silence, and move on to the next project. Whenever possible, engineering managers should share the outcomes of work with engineers and any feedback customers share.  You may need to work with product managers and support specialists to collect this feedback, but providing it to engineers can help give meaning to their work.  It can help connect the dots between the day-to-day tasks they perform and the goals of the company, creating alignment and a sense of purpose.

  • Involving Engineers in Customer Research

Partnering with your product manager, invite engineers to sit in on customer interviews, build and role-play personas, and participate in customer research.  This can help them better understand the customers they’re serving and add to their understanding of the company’s vision.

  • Making Your Company Values Part of Day-to-Day Communication

Most companies have a set of core values that they use as their North Star for guiding employees to collaborate and communicate in specific ways.  At Harvest, we have five core values we embrace: Bring Kindness, Honor Time, Cultivate Collaboration, Seek Impact, and Innovate with a Learning Mindset.  These values help to shape our culture and create a shared understanding of how we should interact with each other.  We reference these values when we give thanks to teammates or call out their accomplishments. 

When engineers learn new technologies and expand the number of tools in their toolbox to build prototypes, we recognize them for Innovating with a Learning Mindset.  When the project is going well and everyone feels informed, we might opt to cancel an unnecessary standing meeting and acknowledge that, by doing so, we Honor Time.  We reference these values in our day-to-day communication, as well as in performance review discussions.

Reinforcing these values by using them in day-to-day communication helps to solidify the kind of culture that can foster a sense of belonging for team members.

What to Avoid

Not Honoring Company Values - Creating and printing posters with core values and distributing them to employees is not enough to have those values shape your company’s culture. Values need to be performed.  Peers, managers, and leadership need to embody those values and serve as role models.  When values are not honored and the company ignores it, it sends the message that these values are not valued.  To effectively build a culture from a values-based system, all individuals should be expected to honor those values.

Wrapping It Up

More so than honoring company values, managers need to honor their engineers. Show that you value them by fostering the four core elements of belonging.

When engineers are proud of their work, feel supported in their daily work and career development, feel a connectedness with their coworkers, and feel seen for their unique contributions, they’re more likely to feel like they belong in your workplace.  That sense of belonging at work is a strong foundation for fostering a healthy company culture and creating an environment in which your team and business can thrive and celebrate success.