Motivation; that holy grail that every manager is searching for, how to keep employees motivated and engaged. Employee motivation is important, and a lot of research has been done around the topic, but putting theory into practice is the hard part. Creating a culture where people have a sense of ownership and they feel appreciated and respected is no easy task, but here are five ways to get you started and moving in the right direction.
1. Let the project team decide the technologies and tools
Step back and let the developers in the project team decide which kind of technologies should be used in the new project they will be working with. Developers are hungry for learning and growing as engineers. It can be demotivating if they are just handed over a list of technologies that need to be used. Additionally, they will feel empowered to be able to make the decisions, and will often go the extra mile to make sure their choices are a good fit for the problem at hand. This might not always be possible, in that case, make sure to explain the constraints to the team.
2. CEO of The Day
Try giving your employees a chance to make decisions they wouldn’t normally be able to make. One way to implement this is to have one day per month when a member of the team can make any decision they want, and without a budget. Sounds scary, right? We have seen amazing results with this technique. This a great way to demonstrate by example that decision making is not easy and it will coach employees into making big decisions while knowing they won't get judged. In a nutshell, giving people more responsibility will make them more responsible.
3. No Asshole Rule
This rule was made famous by Rober Sutton in his book in 2007. It’s another easy concept in theory, but hard to put into practice. Protecting your team from unacceptable behavior is the key here. This might mean that you walk away from potential deals or end some business partnerships if your employees are not treated well. At first, it might feel tough to turn down additional revenue, but your developers will respect this and will stay motivated once they trust that you have their back.
4. Highlight Strengths Not Weaknesses
This is a hot topic and there is a building amount of evidence showing that positive encouragement has much better results than concentrating on weaknesses and negativity. IBM’s WorkTrends Survey covered over 19,000 workers in 26 countries and thousands of organizations. Results revealed that engagement levels with employees who get positive recognition are almost three times higher and those employees are less likely to quit. Make sure you highlight and recognize even the small wins and share that with the whole team.
5. Help Your Employees Thrive
Wouldn’t it be amazing if your developers would be highly energized, but knew how to avoid reaching a burnout? That’s one of the main characteristics of thriving employees. These employees are also highly engaged in creating a good workplace culture and in general, are very productive. Two main components of thriving are vitality and learning. Vitality can be fulfilled by creating a workplace where employees feel that the work that they do matters and the work itself has a purpose. Research shows that thriving employees had 16% better overall performance and 125% fewer burnouts than their co-workers. They were 32% more committed to the company and 46% more satisfied with their job overall. Make sure your employees understand the direction the company is heading to and that everyone understands their contribution. Communicate often and clearly. And lastly, remember that engineers without a possibility to learn will seek that from elsewhere.
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't, 2007, Robert I. Sutton
IBM WorkTrends Research , 2015
Creating Sustainable Performance, Gretchen Spreitzer, Christine Porath, 2012