What Information Technology And Software Engineers Want

Lately I’ve enjoyed an intense opportunity to reflect on my life and the best way for me to contribute in the world. After much reflection and consideration, I’ve returned to the sector where I’ve spent most of my adult life. While my interest has historically been how to help companies who buy and use information technology services, I’ve gotten more personal in my inquiry. I asked 220 software and information technology and software engineers a series of multiple choice questions about their experiences at work. I based some of the multiple choice options on another survey’s results.

Here’s my original survey.

Here’s the survey results.

Key Takeaway

Management and business processes are key complaints of these important, highly compensated members of larger organizations. While we can look to the individual engineers for performance improvement (and they are certainly aware of the need to stay current and develop themselves across the board), it may make more sense to apply greater focus, using the bigger levers in the control of organizational leadership and investors, to create an environment that better leverages the contributions of Information Technology and software engineers.

General Findings

On one hand, the answers were unique to the relatively young (compared to healthcare or construction or manufacturing, for example) information technology sector. On the other hand, I was intrigued to realize many of these problems and dreams are shared by many, if not most, people in the western work force. Maybe we’re all in this together, more than we sometimes realize.

While these results are certainly not statistically significant (the sample size is far too small), they represent the opinions of real people I’ve known and worked with during my career, whose experience I know to be real and personal. In the next phase, I’ll ask them to speak with me directly, to discuss specific examples of how these concerns and needs show up in their lives.

Following is a list of key results, for each question on the survey.

What Surprised Me

Nearly 2 in 3 IT or Software Engineers:

  • are afraid of stagnating in their career.

More than 1 in 2 IT or Software Engineers:

  • work in businesses over $500M; more than 3/4 work in businesses over $50M.

Nearly 1 of 2 IT or Software Engineers:

  • would change business processes that affect them, if they could wave a magic wand and change something about their job.
  • wish they’d know “managing up” since day one.

More than 2 in 5 IT or Software Engineers secretly wish for:

  • more time with family/kids/spouse,
  • career advancement, and/or
  • more vacation.

More than 1 in 3 IT or Software Engineers:

  • are afraid of:

    • failing at work and/or
    • letting down their team.
  • would change the following if they could wave a magic wand and change something about their job:

    • leadership above them, and/or
    • compensation.

About 1 in 3 IT or software engineers:

  • reported their top daily frustration at work as:

    • operational issues and/or
    • people issues.
  • wish they’d known about people supervision, management, or leadership, since day one.

Nearly 1 in 3 IT or Software Engineers are kept up at night by:

  • poor team or organizational management and/or
  • finding work that utilizes the skills they’ve developed.

Fewer than 1 of 17 IT or Software Engineers does the following to solve business problems or things that frustrate them:

  • hire an expert
  • go to the bar
  • cry in the bathroom

Key Survey Results

The list of answers for each question is in descending order of importance (highest agreement at the top of each list).

I’ve limited each list to responses that received 20% or more agreement. Since I’ve left the survey open, the results at the link above may be slightly different if there have been many more responses since the time I’ve written this.

Primary Concerns

Fear of:

  1. stagnating in my career
  2. failing at work
  3. letting down my team

Kept up at night by:

  1. poor team or organizational management
  2. finding work that utilizes the skills I’ve developed
  3. staying current with new languages, frameworks and tools
  4. overall work/life balance

Frustrated by:

  1. operational issues
  2. people issues

Current Situation

I solve problems and frustrations by:

  1. holding a meeting and brainstorming with staff
  2. going to google
  3. get help from a professional

Industries represented:

  1. Online Digital
  2. Financial/Insurance

Role:

  1. Technical Staff Member
  2. Software Developer
  3. Manager
  4. Lead or Supervisor

Business top line revenue > $50M

Needs

If I had a magic wand, I’d change:

  1. business processes that affect me
  2. leadership above me
  3. compensation

I wish I’d know this from day one:

  1. Managing up
  2. People supervision, management, or leadership

Secret desire:

  1. More time with family/kids/spouse
  2. career advancement
  3. more:
    1. vacation
    2. time for myself
    3. money
    4. time with friends
    5. free time
  4. better benefits
  5. reduce the amount of pressure I feel
  6. better technical skills

What You Can Do

  • Share these results with an IT or Software Engineer, or someone who knows one.
  • Ask an IT or Software Engineer their thoughts on these topics.
  • If you’re an IT or Software Engineer, take the Survey.
  • Share your thoughts on the topic in the comments box below.
  • Sign up for my regular communications, receive my free quiz, and let’s work together on this!

Purpose

The purpose of this post is to share the results of an informal survey shared with the goal of helping engineers, information technology, and software pros have more fulfilling careers.


Also published on Medium.

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