How often do you meet with your staff? Do you--as the IT manager, director, VP, or supervisor--meet with your staff regularly? One-on-one and group meetings can be productive and good for morale. Often, developers get in a slump; they feel isolated, and they're not sure if what they're doing is what the end user really needs or wants. So they may end up simply going through the motions of development, making changes that may or may not prove beneficial to the company or the originator of the requirement. Often too, managers declare that they have open communications or an open dialogue, but they don't actually implement such practices. This is often more dangerous than not having any communications at all because it allows managers to pretend to be communicating when in fact they are not, and that can alienate the staff.
There is a renewed sense of community emerging in the OS/400 market. And thanks to the Internet, more dialogue is going on now inter-company than ever before, which is wonderful for developers. They are easily able to communicate with peers to facilitate learning and to feel they are part of group. But the intra-company--or should I say intra-shop--dialogue needs some work. For example, how many developers at your organization get this free newsletter delivered to their inbox? Do you know? Both developers and managers should. There are literally dozens of free or nearly free resources available to both managers and developers, and by holding periodic one-on-one or group meetings, you can communicate the availability of these types of resources. It is up to you, the IT manager, to initiate and proactively participate in this kind of open communications.
By staying in touch with your developers, you and your staff will find out what's going on in development--not only in your own shop but also in the industry. So step back, take a breath, and start talking with your staff on a regular basis. You'll be glad you did.