Engineering organizations know they have effectiveness problems but often lack the right metrics or processes to make improvements. A recent survey of over 350 software developers in the U.S., conducted by Uplevel and Atomik Research, found that CTOs aren’t always aware of what their teams are working on and have a hard time communicating engineering value and direction up, down, and across the organization. Instead, they often rely on gut feelings and intuition to make decisions and measure impact.

CTOs aren’t always aware of what engineering teams are working on
One-third of developer respondents believe that the majority of engineering roadblocks go unnoticed by leadership, which highlights a larger struggle with visibility and alignment across all levels of engineering.

When CTOs don’t know what their engineering teams are working on, respondents reported that:

CTOs will make significant strategic decisions without realizing the negative impact on their team (56%).
CTOs move people around on projects or tasks without knowing the full implications (51%).
CTOs can overwork their developers (44%).

Additionally, 96% of developers said not knowing what their own leadership team is working on is detrimental to the larger team.

CTOs often lead their organizations on gut feelings
30% of respondents noted that their engineering leaders rely solely on gut feelings to measure team effectiveness. Additionally, CTOs use the below methods to get visibility into their teams:

Meetings/conversations (57%)
Engineering insights & intelligence tools (57%)
Messages/emails (53%)
Surveys (46%)

Insights and intelligence tools were seen favorably among developers, with 88% of respondents finding them beneficial and accurate when measuring engineering effectiveness. Despite that, a huge majority (91%) of developers are unhappy with the actual metrics their leadership teams are measuring using these tools. They like the methods being used to collect and analyze their data but want insights that tell a more complete story. The top metrics respondents wish their CTOs were measuring to better support their teams include:

Data on hours worked (to indicate burnout) (52%)
Allocation data (what you’re working on) (49%)
Available Deep Work (focus) time (46%)

Further, despite the general idea that remote and asynchronous work is ideal for software developers, the survey finds that this is not the case:

Only 27% of software developers listed async (Slack, email, Notion) as their preference for communication.
35% prefer synchronous (real-time communication, meetings, live brainstorms).
38% prefer a mix of both.

This sentiment has changed over time, with half of the respondents noting that they used to prefer asynchronous communication but now have a preference for synchronous communication (and vice versa). In line with this finding, over half of the respondents (54%) feel more productive in the office.

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