I am the family cook. At least once a week, I spend two or more hours preparing a meal that takes my family less than 15 minutes to eat.
When I get ready to dice meat or slice vegetables, I have my go-to knives for each job. I pull one from the draw carefully, rinse it, and then begin the task at hand. Most of the time, things are great, I finish and move on to the next task. There are times however, when I can tell after the first cut or so that my favorite knife is in need of a good sharpening. It’s not the knife’s fault, I know I have to maintain my equipment for it to perform for me.
It usually doesn’t take long. A couple of minutes on the steel or whetstone and we are back working to finish the meal.
Your developers are like knives. You, as the manager, have to invest in them to keep them sharp and usable. Just like I would never use a knife until it was hopelessly dull, and then throw it out; you don’t want to lose you investment in your developers by running them into the ground. You need to refresh them, renew them, inspire them.
There is no better way to reinvigorate a developer than to send them to a conference where they can sharpen their skills against the steel of other developers. They get inspired and educated through sessions presented. They reinvigorate by relaxing and sharing with friends new and old.
Sharpen the knives in your drawer. Send your developers to ZendCon 2017 and watch the difference in them when they return ready to tackle your projects with renewed vigor.
Or don’t. I’m sure their next employer will. ;)