Remote Employee Motivation

    In the IT industry, projects with distributed teams are increasingly found. This is convenient - the specification, code, bugs, manuals easily move from one end of the planet to the other in a fraction of a second. This is beneficial - outsourcing of project processes, whether it is development, testing or support, in India or China will cost 3-5 times cheaper than similar services in Europe or the USA.

    You will not surprise anyone with a project in which sales, marketing and business analysis are in England, development in Russia, testing and support in India. The company I worked for specialized in precisely such projects. The most weak points in them, I would call the communication within the project and the motivation of its participants. This article describes an effective approach to solving these problems in projects with a distributed team.



    Triangle of motivation


    In his article , PMP James R. Chapman, describes three factors necessary to motivate an employee. This is the responsibility for the task, tools and knowledge, regular reporting. Visually, they can be represented as a triangle of motivation:

    Triangle of motivation


    James claims that, in 9 out of 10 cases, this triangle will result in a motivated employee and, as a result, a task completed on time. Consider the features of transferring this model to the management of employees located hundreds of kilometers from you.

    Responsibility for the task


    Oddly enough, but the tasks must be set. It’s good to use any tracker that is convenient for you (MS Project, Trac, etc.). It is bad to use mail or IM. Categorically it is impossible to set tasks verbally (what is not written down is not). In order for the performer to feel responsibility for the task and the result, it is necessary to perform 3 steps:
    1. Set the task in the form of SMAR [T] (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, [At this stage, without Time-bound]);
    2. Get a WBS and a task score from the performer;
    3. Set the task in the form of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound);

    Bad example
    [PM] You need to fix all the bugs by tomorrow.
    [Artist] I will try.
    [PM] Ok.

    Good example
    [PM] It is necessary to fix 4 bugs (# 111, 222, 333, 444), give an assessment plz.
    [Artist] # 111, 222, 333 - 2 hours each. For # 444 - you need a reservation, I would put 4 hours on it, plus 2 hours on a fix.
    [PM] Ok, I added the task “Fix 4 bugs (# 111, 222, 333, 444)” to MS Project. Proceed, tomorrow at 18–00 I’m waiting for the result.
    [Artist] Ok.

    Tools and knowledge


    In order to complete this step, make sure that the contractor:
    • possesses sufficient knowledge and skills to complete the task. If the contractor has never encountered such tasks, or is this a new participant in the project - there is a risk that the task will not be completed, plan it;
    • possesses the necessary software, hardware and other tools necessary for the task;
    • has access to the repository with project documentation;
    • has access to the repository with the project code;
    • has access to the task tracker and bugs;
    • acquainted with the rules and processes organized in the project. Each participant must clearly understand how we are doing the project - how and when we write specifications, how we write and review code, how and when we test, etc. To do this, it is good to have a separate document (Project Management Plan) or a project wiki;
    • has the ability to quickly contact all participants in the project. Skype chat and Email group are well suited. Also, it is useful to share the list of phones of all team members;
    • knows the roles and responsibilities of each participant. He knows and has the ability to contact the analyst (author of the specifications) and the tester (author of the description of the bugs);
    • has a communication channel to alert you to urgent issues. Email and PMA phone or team lead, for example;

    Regular reporting


    I use a daily email report in the following format - done yesterday, current tasks and deadlines, problems / questions. Writing such a report takes 5 minutes, it is informative and is a good two-way communication channel between the contractor and the PM.

    Good example
    Made yesterday:
    - I finished the DiagramView component, uploaded it to SVN
    - fixed 2 bugs (# 111, 222)

    Current tasks:
    - develop a DiagramEdit component. I plan to finish October 2.

    Problems / questions:
    - the analyst did not answer my letter yesterday, this may delay development

    Bad example
    Made yesterday:
    - fixed bugs.

    Current tasks:
    - fix bugs

    In reports, I control two main things:
    1. Report format. In the “done” field should be made the tasks done, the results of their implementation. This is a point of self-control of the contractor and a useful source of information for PMA. It is important not to allow nonsense at this point, to return reports saying that the person “read”, “wrote” or “worked”, to demand a result.
    2. Feedback. It is necessary to read and analyze reports, answer questions, solve problems. If an employee moves dates, you need to ask what’s the matter. If it shows good performance - tell him about it and put in a copy of all. Thus, the report will not be an unsubscribe, but will fulfill its important communication role.

    Total


    Try to build such a triangle in your project, support it and evaluate the performance of team members. This sounds paradoxical, but working in such a way with remote employees, you are more likely to get a better result than with people sitting nearby.

    UPD Thank you all for your interest, special thanks to the user atv ! Moved to the "Project Management".

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