Motivating Technically Inclined People

Motivation can be hard at all levels of management, whether it be for technical people or not. I also acknowledge that the methods I have found to help motivate my technical employees over the years generally work in non-technical environments as well. However, they truly seem to resonate with and help maintain the productive technical staff members I have been fortunate enough to work with.


Most people want to improve and nowhere is this more evident than with good I.T. people. With technologies numbing pace of change, all of my better I.T. people listed expanded skill sets as almost mandatory in their requirements, and it’s a great motivator to provide them with this training. Training expands skillsets of course, which is important to both the individual and the company. However, the true value in training is found in both the acknowledgement that the employee is worth the investment and the technology transfer of their new skills to other employees. That transfer of ideas increases the bond between employees and forms better teams when stress requires them to come together on tough projects.

Training can be expensive, but it need not be to be successful. Three months ago I was asked to host technical training for the local area, and in doing so received free training for my staff. This also included free testing for certification. The only costs for our team was the time of the training and testing, meanwhile the company that requested the hosting of me paid us to host it. Other vendors I deal with gladly include training or deeply discount it when asked to better use or sell their products.

Titles and Raises:

A very good friend of mine in the technology sector told me once that he is a “coin operated individual”, and was jumping ship to a new company because of a pay raise. Sitting down with him and talking it over revealed that he was really moving on because of a lack of respect or acknowledgment of his abilities, which I knew to be considerable, by his current company. The lack of money only added to the resentment factor that existed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying money is not an important factor in job motivation, but if you base your employees motivation on just that factor your team will consist of overpaid, under motivated employees.

One way to improve their value is to include changes in title and clear paths toward these title changes. Titles are important on both resumes and self esteem, but again reward employees by acknowledging their accomplishments and advancements. A blend of these two methods tends to be best. Use the titles to justify future raises, never try to use raises to justify titles.

These are just a couple of ideas, more to follow on a later blog. Or better yet, technical or not write me a note and tell me what you find as a great motivator of good talent.

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