Motivation

Articles and posts about motivating geeks and technology teams

Geeks love problems so give them some

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Motivation | 0 comments

No matter where I go, IT managers ask me, “How can I motivate my technical team?” I love that they ask that question, since it tells me that as an industry, our managerial maturity is improving. Fifteen years ago, I was more often asked about process. The short answer is that you can’t motivate your team. Motivation is an internal emotional state, and you can’t crawl into someone else’s soul and make them motivated any more than you can make someone love you. Fortunately, I have a longer answer: You can create conditions under which people are likely to find...

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The secret to keeping process vital

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Computerworld Columns, Managing projects, Motivation | 0 comments

Processes seem to come and go. Too often, though, they wither away from disuse when they still have value. How can we ensure that our staffs remain engaged with worthwhile processes? Consider the life cycle of the typical process. It usually is created as a response to some organizational trauma, like a major project failure. For a while, everyone embraces it, testing, tweaking, celebrating successes and mitigating inconveniences. But eventually, enthusiasm wanes. Urgent needs come up, and people decide that, just this once, a shortcut is justified. The decay begins. Before you know it, the...

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The facts of work vs. its meaning

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Motivation | 0 comments

I often hear complaints about how unmotivated technical groups can be, but managers sometimes seem to miss some of the most important opportunities to create an environment in which motivation can grow. As best I can tell, this is deeply rooted in our backgrounds as engineers. Most IT managers start out as technicians, so we are steeped in the world of facts. We search for them. We love them. We live and die by them. They are our bedrock. But we are so enamored of the facts of our work that we sometimes forget to explicitly speak of its meaning. We assume either that the facts of our work are...

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What Money Means to Geeks

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Motivation | 0 comments

Over the past decade, industry salaries have been on a roller-coaster ride. This year’s survey data shows a return to level ground, which makes this a good time to re-evaluate how we think about money. It seems our love affair with lucre has developed into a bit of a dysfunctional relationship. Now don’t get me wrong. I like money as much as the next person — and more is better — but I’m concerned that we may have created some misconceptions about its meaning. As a manager and consultant, I have noticed that few issues elicit as much emotion from technical staffs...

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Killing Zombies

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Motivation | 0 comments

Does your department host a congregation of the undead? Every so often, I find zombies lurking in the conference rooms and kitchens of IT departments, harassing managers and staff. The undead are remarkably resilient. They are the bane of the managers they haunt, but they are often of the managers’ own making. Let me explain. One of my clients, the CEO of a midsize software company, recently asked me what she should do with a bizarre set of recommendations that she had received from a committee of employees. The group had presented her with a hodgepodge of proposals (read: demands)...

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To Motivate Geeks, Don’t Demotivate

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Motivation | 0 comments

Recently, a couple of intended compliments threw me for a loop. Two people called me in the same week and wanted me to present keynote speeches at their conferences. Of course, that was the flattering part, but what got to me was that they both referred to me as a “motivational speaker.” Since I’m a typical geek, the phrase motivational speaker immediately sets off alarm bells in my mind. It conjures up an image of some tall, tanned, large-toothed, smiling charisma machine expertly manipulating the emotions of a crowd, whipping up a frenzy at one moment and bringing forth...

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11 Ways to Motivate Geeks

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Motivation | 0 comments

Every leader wants a motivated group, but many find that motivating technology workers is quite different from motivating other employees. Here are a few tips from my new book “Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead People Who Deliver Technology”. 1. Select Wisely. The most important thing a leader can do to encourage intrinsic motivation is to assign work to geeks who have an interest in the work. 2. Manage Meaning. The second most important thing a leader can do is to give a geek some sense of the larger significance of their work. Without a sense of meaning, motivation suffers...

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