When you manage a group of technical people, you have to be aware that they may have some specific needs to motivate them effectively. It’s important to know how to keep your team motivated.
- Treat them as Experts – As managers, we spend a lot of time finding the best possible candidate for any technical position. It is our responsibility to allow those great technical resources as much control as possible on their everyday tasks, and resist the urge to micromanage their actions. If they are your expert on specific subjects, deter decisions based on their feedback, and encourage them to provide as much information to the team as possible.
- Reward Progress – Technical work can be very difficult and time consuming, so when even mundane tasks are completed you should recognize the success and reward the team with a reward when possible. This can be as siple as a public recognition of a persons direct contribution to a project or someones help in resoving a production issue. You can also look at allowing someone to work at home for a few days, leaving early on a Friday, or removing them from after-hours support rotation.
- Delegate Responsibility – Allow members of your technical team to take some responsibility as part of a project, which might include some non-technical or managerial tasks. This will show your team your willingness to share in your responsibility, without the appearance of you pushing your job on your team members. Explain the opportunity and encourage those interested team members in taking on additional responsibilities that will help them grow in non-technical areas and coach them in building the skills required to move into management.
- Reduce Stress – Working in the field can generate a lot of stress. This can lead to many a late night trying to resolve problems. Some of these late night can not be avoided, by a manager must be aware of these late nights and make sure you keep them to an absolute minimum. Acting as a communication buffer between angry users and your technical team can be the easiest way to dramatically reduce their stress level.
- Encourage Solutions – People tend to recognize problems, but they don’t always propose a solution. You must allow your team to discover problems, but they must be allowed to also propose the solution. This helps them understand what it takes to resolve issues, but also allows hem to grow more comfortable in proposing useable solutions.
- Remove the Rotten Apple – Do not allow the troublemakers to destroy your team. Negativity can kill the collaboration and innovation efforts of your team, and you must not allow that to happen. Keep the complainers away from your team.
- Promote Communication – If your team doesn’t feel comfortable in communicating with you and the other employees at your company, your team will never be successful. Listen to what your team has to say, and always try to understand the what and why they are trying to tell you.
- Turn Failure Into Success – Unless a failure is intentional or a result of laziness, stop punishing your team for mistakes. Mistakes and errors are opportunities for improvement. Hold retrospectives after any major event and and lead the team in a fact-based review to identify what can be done differently to avoid the same problem in the future.
- Encourage Innovation – Seek innovative ideas so that you can reward your team for anything that is adopted as a new best practice. You have some of the best technical minds available on your team, so unleash their ideas to uncover new innovation.
- Be Helpful – Address the concerns of your team and look for ways to make their life better. This might be handling difficult users, reducing nonessential tasks, or handling some paperwork so they can deal with the technical work.