Working More Productively
So, what stops you from working more productively?
The first thing to understand about motivation in IT is to understand that you don‘t have a workforce to motivate. You have a collection of individuals to motivate – and all of their motivations are different.
The second thing to understand is that if you want to get the best out of those who are working on your crucial project, you have to motivate everybody – permanent staff and contractors alike. There‘s no point in trying to motivate the permanent staff by slagging off the contractors. You’ve got to get them all working more productively.
Once you‘ve understand both of these, then you can begin!
Ask them How to Get Them Working More Productively
So what motivates the individuals in your team? Why not ask them? Did you ever think of that? And don‘t do it as a group. Do it individually and note down and keep the answers.
When it comes to review time for the permanent staff, or renewal time for the contractors, have a look at this again. See how many of the things that they have told you motivates them that you have achieved or have done.
It‘s important to keep the people who work for you abreast of how the company is doing and how the project is doing. However, in reality they only just want to know one thing, and that is ‘what‘s in it for me?’
Everything that you tell them about the company or on project progress should be tied to that one thing.
Also when you meet the project team individually, they‘ll want to know the same thing. What is in it for them. So try to relate any successes that the project is having, or the company is having, to their chances of a renewal or career progression.
Few people are motivated by money. They make a big deal of it once a year at review time, or every few months at contract renewal time. However, as soon as that is signed, sealed and delivered, then the motivation needs to come from elsewhere.
So how do you get the team working more productively? There are several factors:-
– everybody likes to work on a successful project. It is good for their morale and their self-esteem – especially if they have performed well as individuals. The converse is also true.
It is soul-destroying to work on a project which you know is being run badly, which you know is going to be late and a screw-up, and where you have to work long hours on dark winter evenings, trying in vain to bring the project back on schedule.
– As I said above, everybody wants to know what‘s in it for them as an individual. It‘s important to let those know, who are doing well for you that career progression is coming for them if they continue this way working more productively.
– At one company where I worked, I used to run an Employee Satisfaction Survey every three months. I always used to notice that Employee Satisfaction used to jump up after some staff had been on training courses.
People want to upgrade their skills, as they are also upgrading their market value. At another place I worked, there was one guy who was always planning to leave. However, he was always waiting for a particular course that he was about to go on, or skills that he was going to pick up before he left. He‘s still there last time I spoke to him.
– Always have hope at your company – hope for the employees that if they stick around their skills are going to be upgraded. If you are planning to migrate to a new skillset at your company at some time in the future, don‘t hide it from your employees or contractors. New skills will help keep them there and get them working more productively.
Tell them as much in advance as you can. They‘ll put off their leaving plans in order to upgrade their skills and value to the market place. At the company where I was CIO, it was always a constant battle to try to give hope for the future to the people working there.
I knew that virtually all of them could go elsewhere and earn much more money. However, I tried to stay one step ahead of them by keeping their hopes alive, for the future, of them picking up even more skills, and making them work more productively and be more valuable to the marketplace in the future.
Thanks and Appreciation
– It‘s quite easy to do, but not so many managers do it. If you hear that someone has done well on the project, make sure that they know that you know about it and appreciate it.
Also, if their manager tells you about it, ask him or her to pass on your appreciation to them. If you see them in the corridor, say to them ‘Your Project Leader has told me that you did really great in this piece of work. I‘m glad to hear it’. I‘ve found that a simple thanks with some heartfelt appreciation (don‘t fake it) is probably as good a motivation as anything.
If it is a contractor, do the same thing, asking at the same time when his or her renewal date is. You‘re not promising anything, and you shouldn‘t as a negotiation is going to go on. However, just let it be known that you are concerned that you know when the renewal date is, so that you don‘t make any slip ups.
You could even decide to renew the contractor early after a good piece of work, just to show that you appreciate it. It will take a weight off his or her mind. There‘s no need always to wait till a month to go on the contract to renew it
I hope that this gives IT managers some useful tips and ideas on how to keep their team motivated and working more productively. I‘m sure that, as ever, they will say that they are doing all of these things anyway.
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