The topic of HR and related issues is going very hot here, what with Salman Munir and his battery of posts on the subject. (Way to go man! you’re making commenter’s creep out of the woodwork!!)
The discussion on 25k led me to think about one additional point in a employer-employee relationship, and something which i believe is seriously lacking in our hiring processes, called motivation. Yes, M-o-t-i-v-a-t-i-o-n.
I keep hearing people wanting more pay, people switching for greener pastures, people not happy with their jobs, but very rarely have i heard, ‘i wasn’t motivated enough to stay there’ and yet that is one of the major reasons people switch in the first place (according to LifeHack.org). I’ve seen people stay at the same job for years without much financial gain, while others who switched even though they were being paid through the nose, and the only sane reason behind this (IMO) is the motivation one has for doing their job.
Coming to the IT industry in specific, what would motivate developers, testers, technical writers, project managers or even senior managers to stick with one company? I’ll tell you what i think, you tell me what you think.
When someone enters into the technical field, they are by nature, problem solvers. If they’re not, then they’re not in the correct field to start with. Most of the hard-core development people i know love to have a challenge, something which will pick at their brains and keep them coding late into the night just to resolve it. The ‘ah-ha’ feeling at the end of solving a complex problem, the adrenaline rush, is what keeps them going and for the most part, they don’t really care about anything else. I was once part of this group, the junkies, who would challenge each other trying to out-solve each other. These people think at breakneck speeds, switching context so fast, it would make any sane person’s head spin, and still manage to talk coherently to others. These people require that constant need for having a problem to think about otherwise, they get frustrated, and when ‘managed’ leave in droves.
Make we want to get up in the morning!
No one likes repeating the same old boring task day in and day out (apart from bankers and insurance agents). We all need a reason to do something, and im sorry to say.. ‘to earn a living’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. Atleast not among the kind you want creating software and thinking design. For techies, one of the prime reasons for getting up in the morning, going through the mundane tasks of cleaning themselves up, being presentable and making the (often long) commute to work needs to be something other than just making money to survive on. A variety of factors come into play here, with the most effective one being, ‘i owe it to the company to be there’. Yes, you heard correctly, they feel they owe it to their employers to be productive and not slack off. How that is managed comes from many sources (some presented later) including a) being of a team or b)having a deadline (funny how well that works for developers, wonder if that’s why agile development took hold so fast?) and c)having a comfort zone at work.
Consider the case of newly graduated, super talented developer that you hire into your company, who comes up with this amazing piece of code which reduces your server response time by almost 100%! Only, their supervisor thinks it was a fluke, the manager thinks it was the only logical solution and nothing for which the newbie should be credited for and the rest of the senior developers fall into the alpha-male dance of who can beat his chest the hardest because they suddenly feel threatened. By the way, marketing finds this out, sells it aggressively and makes the company a bunch load of money in the process.. all of which stays with the company.
What would happen to the developer? Who, incidentally, has also signed an agreement to not claim anything he wrote as his own, nor to ever speak of it outside of the fourwalls of the company, you know, the NDA.
And finally, compensation. Afterall, we all have to eat, dont we? This is where peer pressure (and parental pressure) rears its ugly head and people are cornered into believing either they should be paid more in terms of money because their cousin xyz at abc corp (which is an MNC) is being paid 4x the money you are for a brain numbing, soul killing job of crunching numbers while you are being taken advantage of. Compensation doesn’t have to be monetary by the way, (though in some cases it is the most useful). Compensation also means being recognized, given special treatment, given medical cover (!!), or even a comp’d dinner at a 5 star for them and the family. I mean, even the Pakistan Navy now has Sailor of the Month programs where the lucky sailor’s picture is put up at every major thoroughfare in the establishment! Yes, compensate me, make me happy and i’ll gladly solve all your problems and make you even more money~!!
While finally leads me to my final point…
Take me where i want to go!
Career growth is a very potent management tool, which is not used all that well by a lot of companies. I will do a detailed post on this later, but suffice to say, ‘you were hired to do xyz job, keep doing it otherwise you’re out the door’. I dont want to be doing the same thing all my life! For techies, they dont want to be coding in the same java/dotnet/php (or whatever is the latest pet language) all their life, they have specific goals, specific destinations they want to get to and this is a stepping stone. Employers who dont see that, end up loosing their people, employees who dont see that, end up being frustrated in the same job till they switch. See the connection?
So tell me, what motivates you?