As a “techie” and a manager of techies, this is a question deserving regular review.  This topic can be a challenge as we may not fully understand this about ourselves or we may rely on conditioning to express what’s perceived to be right answer.  Of course we are all unique and not motivated by the same factors –knowing ourselves and each team member as an individual is important.  Even individual needs and interests will change over time!

What should we do?  Setting aside time to think about this is important for one’s own personal growth and also as a manager to better understand your team.   What gets us excited?  Which are show stoppers?  Which is irrelevant?  Below is a list of motivators I have seen over the years along with questions worth asking yourself. 

  1. The Work & Technology – This should be a primary motivator for everyone.  If you are coming to work simply as a job the results will clearly reflect – and I would suggest one re-evaluate!  This need not imply you are working on the next “big thing” but simply does your work engage you mentally.
  2. Competition – Are you motivated by a desire to be part of the “best” product in a category?  Are you willing to go above and beyond simply for this satisfaction?  How does knowing that your product is an industry leader (or laggard) impact you? 
  3. The People & Team – Do you enjoy working with the members of your team?  Do you respect them, do they show respect for you?  Do you feel challenged by your team?  One way to consider this– would you be willing to take a pay cut or work on less exciting tasks to stay on a team?
  4. HW, Tools & Environment – How much does top notch HW and software technologies, office environment, and office surroundings (i.e. like a campus) impact you?  If given the choice, would you choose a new advanced HW and/or tools over say a raise or different team?  Or would you change companies to work in a more collaborative environment?
  5. Culture – I have seen this turn quickly to a de-motivator!  How much are the following important to you:  empowerment, decision making process, trust, respect, and realistic schedules?   Does your business actually value family balance (not just printed on a plaque on the wall)?  How about encouraging charitably giving and volunteer service?
  6. Recognition – Some folks are motivated by individual and/or team recognition, much like the record books for sports teams.   They thrive on visible recognition for the work they have completed (and this is not bad).  How does your company recognize folks who have gone above & beyond?  How does your company recognize and value longevity?
  7. Compensation – While folks need to earn a living, compensation may not be a primary motivator for everyone.  An interesting way to look at this – would an additional 10% (or decrease in 10%) cause you to change jobs?  No doubt there is a tipping point if your salary is out of line, but I’ve seen through experience that when it gets down to salary it may be masking other factors from above.

I would expect most would say these are all part of the job satisfaction equation, but also appreciate that each carries a different weight. 

  • As employees it is important to consider what motivates you and then communicate to your manager. 
  • As a manager we must get to know our team at an individual level and maintain this awareness over time. 

A stable, committed and tenured team is absolutely critical to success.  These are teams that will pull through tough times together, pool their talent to innovate in all areas, and leverage their tenured knowledge and experience to work efficiently.  Ultimately these teams will become high performing and stand out – so its important you do your part to understand your needs!

How would you rank the above attributes?  Are there any where you will not compromise?  Are there elements which do not matter to you?  Any elements you would add to the list?