Gabrielle Sadeh

@gabriellesadeh

How to Get the Non-Techies at Your Company Excited About Your Software

It can be hard to get coworkers outside of your department to give a damn about what you’re working on.

I personally don’t code, but as a marketer who studies company cultures, I’ve seen many times how frustrating it can be.

Even though development and programming is so crucial to making tech products work, people in other areas tend to have a weird attitude about it. Because they don’t understand much of what we’re working on, it can be hard to talk to them about it. This makes it tough to get enthusiasm and support when you need it — like when there’s a big rollout and you could use some publicity, documentation or recognition.

You soldier on, but it’s still annoying. And after a while, the frustration can make your job less satisfying sometimes. Why share what you’re doing with a bunch of people who couldn’t care less, even though their paycheck depends on it?

Plus, it’s not like the dev team can truly do its job alone. You need input from customers and the coworkers that work closely with us. The more, the better.

So be the bigger person and give them a nudge. Make it easy for even the least tech savvy coworkers at your company to understand what you’re doing and support you in it. Maybe you can even get them excited to learn and understand more.

Here are a few things you can do to spread the excitement for your development work throughout your company culture.

Help them up their tech knowledge

Let’s address the first barrier: it’s hard to get anyone excited about something he or she doesn’t understand.

Most of your coworkers probably don’t understand the work you’re doing — they just know it’s important to the company and product. But without the depth of knowledge to understand details, they have no context or frame of reference around the work that you do.

If you tell them how hard it took to fix a certain bug, they’re not going to know if that’s good or bad, or even how to respond. It’s not their fault for not having enough context to respond appropriately.

So help them learn.

Find ways to give them a better understanding of the technology that runs the product we all work on.

An easy way to start doing this is simply pointing them towards the right and relevant online resources. That might be simply sending a Wikipedia page related to a topic you’re talking about on Slack so they can get some background info, or more opinionated blog posts about tech trends your company embraces.

To step it up a little, you can hold internal trainings, like a series of “lunch and learn” sessions, or weekly online trainings with a webinar tool. If you use the ClickMeeting platform for these purposes, then you can easily set up a recurring Outlook calendar event that invites groups of key stakeholders to your presentations — and you can do it all from within your inbox.

During those educational sessions, you have people’s full time and attention to break down complex topics that matter to your company. And you can also create libraries of past presentations available for on-demand replay.

Finally, if lack of mechanisms for continuous learning is a wider issue at your company than your own challenges, you might want to consider discussing it with HR leadership, or whatever executives control company policy and culture.

You may be able to kick off an initiative to help team members with professional development, like a budget for buying interesting books and enrolling in Skillshare or General Assembly classes. For example, Buffer offers a small stipend each month for employees to invest in personal and professional development.

Involve them in collaborative projects

One of the cool things about upping your colleagues’ tech skills and understanding is that it’ll get a lot easier to collaborate with them on different projects to bring new ideas and perspectives to the table. This means you can do so more frequently, which is a great way to get them involved and caring about what you do.

Putting skin in the game automatically increases someone’s emotional investment.

For example, consider talking to the sales and customer support teams. They’re on the customer front lines, talking to end users most frequently, so they have depths of expertise to bring to certain product development and roadmapping discussions. And the more they understand the tech behind it, the more helpful they will be as the go-between between tech teams and end users.

You might even do well to migrate your whole product roadmap planning to a platform like Productboard, which allows people to discuss, upvote, downvote, prioritize, assign and collaborate on development initiatives.

This doesn’t just make it easier to get people excited about projects because they’re involved, you’ll be able to create better products for your customers. Nobody succeeds in a silo, and when it comes to what your coworkers see as confusing tech, you might need to be the ones to reach out.

Share regular progress updates

Finally, an easy way to get your coworkers enthusiastic about what you’re doing is to be transparent about your ongoing work. Tech teams tend to be cordoned off, speaking your own programming lingo, but the above tips are all about changing that.

Once you do, sharing regular updates about what you’re currently working on lets you bring them on the ride of product development with you. There are lots of ways to do this, so you can choose what seems easiest and most appropriate for your company dynamics.

For example, if you use Slack to discuss the scope of your sprints, invite other team members to your channels so they can see the status of different updates and what’s in the pipeline. If your company sends an internal newsletter to employees, you can ask for certain updates to be included.

But whenever possible, show, don’t tell. Especially ahead of any big, new release, it’s a great idea to demonstrate to your whole company your results as initiatives move forward. For example, holding meetings to give live sneak peeks helps them understand the tech team’s progress and ask questions that can be insightful for everyone.

Spread the tech love

If you’re passionate about your work, that enthusiasm can easily become contagious, which only helps company culture. However, your coworkers need to understand what you’re up to before they can get genuinely excited about it.

Instead of complaining about a lack of support, start fostering the support you need with these ideas.

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