A while ago I had heard the fact that 85% of people in the work force today are either unhappy with their job or completely hate their jobs. One of the first things Most managers will tell you that an unhappy employee can cause havoc on their productivity. In IT you can run into even bigger problems, because when a tech is unmotivated it can cause company wide problems. You can change that if you know what gets them excited.
Starting with the obvious suggestion, higher paid employees are generally happy employees. Cash in one form or another is a great external happiness booster. Though I recommend that you keep some of factors in mind. Money can’t be used as a long term motivator, eventually it looses it’s effect. Remember to set a goal and use the money to motivate the project. Also remember don’t be cheap, I’ve gotten a $10 Wawa gift card in an attempt to motivate me, lets just say that it had the opposite effect.
If you tried the money route and only got the temporary boost that it brings but you are looking for more, then you need another method. If you plan to keep your team together for a while, then money will only get you so far. The next step is appealing to their technical professionalism. Every tech that I’ve met has their own level of professionalism that they need addressed for them to be happy in their job. Most techs have a technical degree of some sort, or advanced certifications. That means they’ve invested a significant amount of time and energy into their career, even before they sat down at an interview, They define themselves by what they do for a living.
With that explanation of the technical mind for you, I’ll have to give you ways to help increases motivation. One way to appeal to a tech self worth is by letting them know what they are doing for a company. Technical experts like to know what their contributions due for the company. Techs take pride in their company and want to know that their works for nothing.
Another way way to motivate a tech is by helping advancing their professional skills. Tech’s love nothing more that continuing their learning. It’s a simple thing, but I can’t tell you the amount of companies I’ve seen that don’t get this simple thought. Some tech use their knowledge as a measure of personal wealth. Plus the added advantage of being of use to the company. Many companies view the training of techs as a waste or time, or training them to take another job. Whether this is true or false is on a per-tech basis, but techs always feel motivated if you care about their knowledge.
Another off-shoot of advancing their knowledge is letting them keep their problem solving skills sharp. Many tech like the thrill of the solving a problem, from start to finish. I am this way, I feel more satisfied when I am working on a problem where I don’t know the solution and working my way through it. As a personal story, I recently had some problem with a backup server, and I couldn’t solve the problem and I can’t tell you how satisfied I was when I solved it. I’ve had managers in the past that wouldn’t have given me that freedom and micromanaged the situation or just turned the problem over to someone else. I’ve had it done to me, and it was hard to be motivated during that job.
Another way is to give your techs some input in the way things are done in the department. This was something that no one ever told me when I was a manager, it was something that I found out by accident. I offered my employee’s some input into projects and really saw one of my employees really come to life once he had input. Someone who I saw as a 9 to 5 and that’s it kind of employee turn into one of the best techs that I had to manage. It only took giving him some input and letting him be part of the solution. You don’t need to take all the advice from them, but sometimes they do have good solutions that you didn’t think of.
There are probably more methods to motivate and help your techs be more productive, but these are the ones that I’ve used and seen work. Tech are a special breed of worker, and sometimes if they aren’t given the correct motivation then they wont be prime workers. I haven’t met very many techs that weren’t easy to motivate and turn into idea workers, you just need to give them the tools and let them work to their potential. But like every rule there are exceptions out there and no matter what you do you can’t get them to work to their potential, but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try the steps above and see if they just need to be brought out of their shells.