An oft-repeated refrain is that “nobody ever jumped ship who wasn’t already standing by the rail.” Helping your staff to keep learning and growing will move them farther away from the rail.
Good Working Conditions
If your staff doesn’t like being at work, they will likely find reasons and excuses for not being there!
• Make the workplace a good place to work
• Be mindful of the “no jerks” rule
• Be flexible
• Feed your team
Sane Company Policies and Administration
Unless you start a company and have full control over its policies and communications, you will never have an opportunity to ensure that all the policies and members of the administration are sane. However, here are things you can do to make the most of the policies and administration you do have.
• Protect your staff from organizational distraction
• Protect your staff from bad organization communication and policies
If you expect great things from your staff, you must set an example. One of the most important examples to set is that of a professional and ethical person. A manager who is ethical is forthright and honest in dealing with his staff and others. He can be trusted to keep confidences and stand up for his staff against anyone in the company. A professional shows up on time to work and to meetings without being reminded. A professional does not use abusive or profane language and projects an aura of being in control of a situation without undue attention. A professional has high expectations of himself and others and demonstrates an aura of cool and calm under fire. A professional tells the truth and does not try to manipulate facts or people.
If you are a manager who is ethical, fair, and not self-promoting, you will be a long way down the road to having your staff think you are a great manager.
• Be ethical and professional at all times
• Be fair
• Compensate fairly
• Promote appropriately
Key Motivating Factors
If you provide the foundational factors, you will have provided the foundation. Now you can more readily motivate your staff by applying the motivating factors. This does not mean that your staff cannot be motivated without first shoring up the foundational factors, but your job will be easier if there are no causes of dissatisfaction to dilute their motivation.
There are no “silver bullets” for creating a motivated staff, but those motivating factors listed below are a good place to begin. As shown in Figure 7.4, once you’ve got the foundational factors in place, the motivational factors lift the team to top performance.
Making a Difference in the World
It is the rare individual who does not want to make a difference in the world. Many if not most of us chose to program at least in part for the opportunity to positively impact the world we live in. If your organization is building or providing something that can be pitched as making a contribution— improving the world in some way—you will have an easier time recruiting and motivating your staff. People are always willing to work harder and longer when they feel their efforts matter.
Steve Jobs was the master of high-tech evangelism. His famous challenge that recruited John Scully out of Pepsi to run Apple in its early years was “Do you want to sell sugar water or change the world?” Steve’s Apple employees have been fanatical about being part of Apple’s mission to change the world.
But it doesn’t take a Steve Jobs to pitch this kind of vision (though being an “insanely great” communicator with a “reality distortion field” certainly doesn’t hurt). Look for and find how your company is helping to change the world and point it out in your recruiting pitches, in your regular communications to your staff, and especially when you’re calling upon people to dig deeper and work harder for some milestone. It will make a difference!