October 17, 2011, 2:06 PM —
Question: I was just promoted from Senior Software Developer to Software Development Manager. What things can I do to motivate my team?
First, congratulations on your promotion. I started my career as a programmer also and found the move to manager to be exciting, thought provoking, and sometimes a little bit scary.
As a bad take-off on my favorite soft drink jingle, “I’m a techie, you’re a techie, your staff are techies too.” As a result, think about the things that motivate and excite you professionally. Many of these same things may also motivate and excite your staff. Over the years I have found that if I simply treat my staff like I would like to be treated, I’m doing most things right.
Specifically to your question regarding how to motivate your new team, at a high level, techies are generally motivated by two things. First, by the items that motivate all employees, such as a supportive manager. Second, techies are motivated by factors specifically related to their profession, such as the availability of state-of-the-art tools.
Now let’s talk about these motivation types one at a time.
Regarding the items that motivate all employees, remember that techies are people too. As a result, the following general items are motivating by their nature.
- Recognition of their ability
- Promotional opportunities
- A fair and pleasant workplace
- Work/life balance
- Recognition of work
- A supportive, fair and competent manager
All employees also like to feel that they are being fairly compensated for time and expertise. As a result, the following items generally will not make them motivated, but will help keep them motivated.
- Competitive compensation
- Quality benefits like health insurance
- Tuition reimbursement
- Available funds to take training classes
From a techie specific perspective, consider the following:
- Opportunity to expand skill set
- Opportunity to create
- Mental stimulation and challenge
- Opportunity to get your work done
Regarding the opportunity to expand skill set, it’s my opinion that technology has an 18 month half-life. This means that the technologies you know today are only half as valuable to you professionally 18 months from now. Therefore, as techies, we must continually update our skill set. If you would like to learn more about this concept, read next week’s blog.
Regarding the opportunity to create, to the extent possible, give your team the time and the tools to get their work done.
Regarding providing mental stimulation and challenge, to the extent possible, try to give your team interesting things to work on that will help expand their knowledge and abilities.