devleads - (not) financial motivation

    Hello! With you again devleads-podcast. A podcast for tmlidov, development managers and their sympathizers. This time we decided to talk about motivation, to draw a clear line between financial and non-financial, and also to determine which of them is more important for developers and how to develop them among employees. Let's try to answer the questions:

    • when financial motivation works, and when not;
    • when non-financial motivation to even start applying is useless in principle;
    • how to motivate remote teams;
    • and many others.

    - Artem, hello! What would you define motivation in general?

    - Hello! I am not very ready now for Wikipedia terms, but in general this is a popular concept from psychology, which has become part of mass culture and has given rise to a bunch of memoras on how to motivate office plankton so that they sit and work, rather than stare at Facebook. Well, seriously, as for me, motivation is your inner desire to do something. Go to work, help colleagues, help users of their product to solve problems. And do it all well.

    - And there is still such a thing as stimulation. What is the difference between them?

    - Yes, even in the very terms, look, stimulus is such a sharp thing on a stick, which chased donkeys and bulls to do what they need. This is generally a story about a carrot in front (or even behind) that allows a person to work. It is often used in masstaffing, that is, in relation to personnel from mass hiring, call centers, cleaners, taxi drivers and similar professions. Roughly speaking, for people whose work is not related to creativity, who are doing something mechanical.

    - It sounds cool, but not very clear - why is it? Why bother with additional motivation, is one wage really not enough?

    - If I understand correctly, your podcast is listened to by development managers. So, a lot of people faced with a situation where the developer to criticize the code responds with something in the spirit: “What was in the TK, then I told you”. And this is an example of an unmotivated employee who works for 2 sms per month - just for the money. The problem here is for the organization, and for the team of such an employee, that time has already been spent on this work, and the price of such an error is the maximum.

    And there is another type of employees who, having received the task, will first think 8 times, understand whether the proposal should be implemented exactly this way, they may have questions, they will come up and clarify. And this is an example of a motivated employee, who cares about what he does. He is not just a task maker, he is interested in doing everything well. Here is the difference between motivated and unmotivated. If you want to work with such, you need to engage in motivation. Of course, if you are satisfied with what you write TK coolly and just as coolly they just do it without question, you can not engage in motivation and just pay people money.

    - There are still salary increases, bonuses there, annual and quarterly. If I raise an employee’s salary every six months, will it still be cool?

    - You know, this is already a question of whether the organization has enough money to raise salaries every six months. Because any repetitive action enters the norm, it is no longer perceived as something significant. This is the first.

    Secondly, if we talk about people of creative work (and I refer to such developers as such), there is an interesting fact. For 40 years, a so-called candlestick experiment has already been carried out. People get into the room, in front of them put a candle, a lighter and a box with clips. The task is to somehow attach the candle to the wall so that the wax from it does not drip onto the table. People were divided into two groups. First motivated financially, they say, if you do it quickly, you will get 20 bucks, and you will do it even faster - 40 bucks. And the second said that the time for which they qualitatively solve this problem will be a benchmark for the rest.

    So here. Those who were not motivated financially did this task 3.5 times faster than these guys with 20 bucks. The experiment is conducted quite often and is constantly confirmed. For people who are engaged in creative work, financial motivation reduces performance and productivity. But people involved in mechanical work, from such a motivation to win and start working faster. It was checked this way: all the clips were poured out of the box, which translated the entire task into the plane of mechanical work. And people quickly solved it for money.

    Therefore, I think that if the increase in the level of wages will change something for creative professions, it will not work for the long term. And any financial motivation tends to end. If you raise a person every six months, he will think that he always received so much. And that everyone in the market gets the same amount. Moreover, he will always find in the market examples of positions or companies that are willing to pay so much, and this will only strengthen him in such beliefs that this is the norm. And he will want more.

    - And how much time passes between the moment the salary is raised and when the employee starts thinking that this is in the order of things?

    - Depends on the conditional threshold, which increases the salary, on how much it means for the employee. In my experience - 3-4 months. It is after this that a person changes his habitual model of consumption, he believes that he always received this new money. I have never seen this work for more than a year. No, if you pay a cleaner 500 thousand at once, it will work, of course. Clearly longer will work.

    Here, we smoothly turn to the topic of financial motivation. Is it just a salary or something other than bonuses?

    You know, it's probably just money. I often argued on this subject and came to the conclusion that all these stories related to a comfortable office and buns are not financial motivation in themselves. But money and bonuses are certainly motivating. Short, but not bad. But these conditions in the office, classroom parking, fruit there, are more likely not conditions of motivation, but ways to differentiate employers, this plays a role at the moment an employee chooses a future job. But people rarely leave because they stopped bringing fruit. They can hide behind it, yes, but the reason is usually different.

    - In different companies, different awards, somewhere annual, somewhere quarterly. What is the difference between them in terms of influence on a person?

    - Here all the processes are individual. Here is a performance review. A number of companies believe that if a person performs well, then we will give him a bigger prize. I noticed that the developers themselves do not think about the prize when they come to work. They do not begin to write code with thoughts of the form: “Now I will write more code and the bonus will be more,” no. They remember something about the prize for a month or two, because the review begins.

    I often see negative here. Everyone is waiting for the premium, for them this is a kind of cutoff, will the person work in the company further, after the award, or not. And from personal experience I will say that for developers, it’s not the amount of the bonus itself that is important, but feedback from the manager. Premiums are usually tied to some rating system, and they are different. Of course, the resulting estimate and feedback is more important than money only when the other minimums are met - market wages and so on. And here is the situation that the money in terms of employee motivation fade into the background and do not have such a big value. People do not work all year only in order to receive an award.

    - OK, and periods — once a year, half a year, or more often?

    - I worked in several models. In the annual and semiannual cycles of performance review. There is not much difference. Personally, I was better in semi-annual. If there are employees who simply stay up to the prize, then in this case you can shorten the dropout period for such toxic elements. And if you do this once a year, then such employees can go into silent mode and sit silently, if only there was a bonus. Therefore, every six months is better. For the development team, the remuneration also depends on the daily performance review.

    Studies show that it works negatively with developers. If we talk about mechanical work, then yes, it is easier for them. Well, like salespeople: working for a percentage is OK. And for developers, the amount of code is not OK.

    It is not so much the frequency of the premiums that is important as the adequacy of the assessment of the developer’s work, its fairness and transparency of the assessment process. So that it does not turn into a lottery - what prize will it receive there in a year and why.

    - And if you completely reject premiums, how will this affect motivation?

    - I will not specify the name, but there are a lot of companies where there are no awards in principle. At the same time, they hunt people better on the market, because this premium is simply spread over current salaries. Should I refuse the award and switch to such a model? Not sure. Now ask me now, am I ready to give up the semi-annual bonus? No, not ready. Sooner or later the prize will come. I do not go to work just to get it. But I am not ready to refuse it.

    - There is still such a thing as options. Basically, in startups, but there are also in large companies - when the developer owns part of such a company. Is this financial motivation or not?

    - It is rather a mixture of financial and non-financial, in which there is even less financial. The goal of a startup is to enter an IPO, and the possibility of obtaining options depends on it. That is, when the company becomes public. To achieve this, this is a non-financial goal of the employees, they can then enter a success story about their company’s IPO in a resume. Conventionally, they know that after entering IPO there will be options and money, but in daily motivation this is precisely the low value. But the goal itself - to go to the IPO - this is something for which you can go to work. Becoming a public company is a motivation.

    - It's funny, we are talking about financial motivation, and I just got a salary. It seems to be motivated. OK, you said that buns like dinners and other things don't work. And if you buy a ticket for a conference, will it work?

    - Of course. Still looking how to present it. If you tell the development team that he will go to konfu, if he passes the project on time, this is generally demotivation, rather. And if you meet with him to talk and suddenly this one brought him a ticket, saying that he works cool and you decide to give him a ticket. Here at this moment konfa becomes motivation. When you thought about the employee and made him a surprise, there is faith in the manager.

    - Got it. That is, if we want to keep a person in the company, only this will not work with money, right?

    - Let's face it. Any developer is now looking for work 1 day. That is, if he still selects an employer. We did an experiment: one of our leads just opened his resume for viewing. Within half an hour, they immediately received a call from 7 fairly well-known companies. The market will always be the one who pays more. But for a long time it is impossible to motivate only with money. You’ll get a story like “You pay me, I work, I’ll pay less - I’ll leave.” Developers have such strange looks.

    - This does not mean that developers can be driven into the basement and not pay them?

    - Well, there are startups that actually work almost in basements, they are OK. Of course, developers have to pay, and conditions in the office should be normal. If the developer has a normal office and market wages, he no longer thinks about non-financial motivation. If you pay him so much that he still has to freelance after work or unload the cars there, then what kind of non-financial motivation is there, if a person has nothing to live on. But if the base volume of consumption is closed, then the financial motivation itself is endless. You can get 200,000, and you can 1,000,000. And you will always find an explanation why you should get even more.

    - Come now about non-financial motivation more.

    - This is what makes a person come to work every day, overcoming possible difficulties. On the example of development, if it is an introvert, then it must daily overcome a certain barrier of communication. Junior has to cultivate. In order for a person to want to do this, it is important for him to understand what he is doing and why. Here for developers it is already important to do something significant and breakthrough, and money is less important. There is no silver bullet here, and building such a motivation is a long and painstaking work of you as a leader.

    - What does non-financial motivation consist of? How to build it correctly?

    - From the desire to come to work. It is precisely not being built quickly, but gradually. This is the moment of building a relationship both between the employee and the manager, and within the team. If your team is constantly someone with someone swears and there is a hidden fight, there is nothing to talk about in terms of non-financial motivation.

    The employee here should see the leader of the leader, to whom you can come up with a problem and who will solve this problem. Including not only working questions and problems, by the way. A manager may be a friend of an employee, but it’s very important to keep a distance. If the group constantly communicates with each other and with the leader only in ticket format, this is already sad.

    Attempts are still being made to motivate large groups at once. Of course, for people with huge charisma like Musk or Branson, it works, but I'm here to motivate small groups. I divide a large team into such groups and work with them. The smaller the group, the easier it is to make a team of it and devote more time to each participant. But if you have 15-20 people, this is already difficult.

    - Can you single out three whales of non-financial motivation?

    - I would sing it out in elephants to make 4.

    Firstly, face-to-face personal meetings are extremely important. Secondly, technical improvement. When a leader for an employee is a technical guru and mentor. Thirdly, the employee must be aware of the importance of what he does every day. That this is not just a set of tasks, but work for something more. And fourthly, the informal part. You should not treat an employee as a work force, you should be interested in his problems as well.

    These 4 things are very important for building normal relationships.

    - Let's take a closer look at personal meetings.

    - The modern head has not one and not two subordinates, there are several of them. 5, 15 or 25, for example. You should know what they are doing, because they are judged by their actions as a leader. Such meetings help build relationships with employees. I’m not really in favor of being an employee as the best friend — there’s just enough “normal buddy” level. On tete-a-tetah can be discussed and other problems of the employee, in addition to workers. It is important to prepare for them and adequately carry them out. I have often seen when such meetings are carried out purely technically: they hammer in a year in advance — every Monday at 8 am the employee arrives, talks about solved tickets (sometimes they even talk with ticket numbers, not tasks within tickets, this is very bad), the manager berates for something and people diverge.

    The second side of the medal: sometimes the first couple of meetings are held as it should, and the third and beyond are just going to chat informally. This is also not that. Normal tete-a-tete is a mixture of working and non-working. Especially cool if you prepare in advance and you know what problems an employee has. Or just come to subordinates and find out how they are doing.

    If the employee himself wants, informal things can be discussed with him. This sometimes has an awesome effect. We had a case, the employee broke up with the girl, and this globally demotivated him. I invited him to change the situation and roll up on a business trip to St. Petersburg. He decided it was cool and drove off. Rolled, aired his head, unloaded, returned and continued to work normally.

    Another thing is important. If you promised something to an employee, do it. Or come and tell, that did not rise. But if you just say that you heard it, leave it, but you can’t do anything, then sooner or later the employee will stop sharing something with you.

    - And what about Peter: will it not be possible that the staff will then invent stories to once again roll up to relax?

    - With some employees this could certainly be. But in my case, he simply described the problem, and not the solution - I already proposed a solution. Of course, if he comes later and says: “Artem, I’ve got strained here, let me run to Peter?” - there is no longer here, this is not a good story. You should include your head in everything, it should not turn into a system.

    - Working and non-working moments - understandable. And if a person does not want to talk about non-working, what to do here?

    “Trust is not when you snap your fingers, and that’s it, you have trust.” If the employee does not trust you, it is already a bell for you that something is wrong with you in communication with him. You can demand nothing here, as well as push. Find out how his work is doing, in general, step by step, it will come. You have an aim in itself not to learn something and pull ticks out of it, but simply to build communication. You don't need to become a better friend either, just talk.

    - And if the employee, on the contrary, began to open too much and consider you the best friend?

    - You are the leader of the meeting, its moderator. Control these things, stop them at the right moment. If this happens, I try to have less informal communication. Because in the long run it works sucks. You can praise him for something as an employee, but for something and scold. He can start working worse than everyone else in the team, knowing that you are not going to scold you: you are the best friends, what is there to scold? Or even fire - friends do not. So control the distance.

    - You talked about learning. What does it include?

    - Quite briefly: employees are different and learn in different ways. They have soft skills and hard skills. Software in the modern world is including communications. There are all sorts of courses to improve public speaking and so on. There are courses about application architecture. Any employee must be pumped in both directions. As a manager, you yourself should be interested in what interests them. But do not go in cycles and do not bend, if your employee is an introvert, by itself, do not force him to carry on trainings on performances.

    - Yeah. And how can I justify the business that I need money for such courses for developers?

    - Most often, a budget is allocated for training, and here it is your direct responsibility as a leader to choose it. In numbers, you never figure out the need for training. Either it will be a financial model that will be easily challenged, or it will not be possible to do it at all. Here is the question of trusting your leader to you - does he believe that you are doing everything right, that you can build motivation? In general, just come and ask for money for courses. Or negotiate for free. I actually drove a couple of times.

    - I understand correctly that in numbers this is very difficult to justify?

    - Absolutely. The only way, but far from true, is to speak about the price of losing such an employee. But this is generally similar to blackmail, like, or he goes to konfa or learn, or even quits. It can be explained that if you do not teach people, it will badly affect the rest. You can land it on the cost of an employee onboarding. Here the numbers will be in your favor. After all, it is always easier to keep the current employee than to find a new one.

    - And if a person learns something new in these courses and wants a task from this sphere, and not from the usual one? Giving them?

    - Of course. I thought for a while that you just come to a supervisor, ask him what to do, and he just gives you tasks. At some point I came to him and said that I did not like the task. I was very lucky with the leader, he said, OK, I will give you another one, that which interests you. I was then wildly motivated.

    If a person wants to master machine learning and then take on such tasks for himself - let him take it. If this is not his responsibility, as a manager, think about rotating him. Yes, you will lose an employee in your team, but not in the company as a whole. But he will be motivated. Let it develop, this is generally a plus for the company.

    - And if he wants something new every week, he quickly lights up and then goes out just as quickly?

    - This is called “blinking.” There are two types of people in this regard - prone to this and not.

    With inclined it is necessary to build a goal setting system. When you talk to him, set long-playing goals. Specify, how their achievement moves ahead, stir up interest to execution. Yes, there will always be people who change their point of view every day. You just work with such or not work. Because, as it seems to me, you in 25 years still have to be stable.

    - Come on about technical improvement. If the architecture is cool, are all employees motivated by an automatic machine?

    - No, this story is not about the current architecture of the project, but about how it will evolve. You can come to an excellent company, where there is a huge monolith in the backend, which is already done correctly. But it can not be changed. And you just work without the opportunity to try out new technologies. There is no self-improvement. I even heard the term “form-blindness”. You do the same thing every day.

    Well, a person does a client application or some services. Makes them good. But he does not change anything, he does not study anything. He just quickly and well makes services. It's all.

    This becomes a problem, a story about the fact that your manager does not understand the technical part of what you are doing. This also has a bad effect; it is important that the manager understands what the employee is doing. I do not believe that an employee can be motivated by those who do not understand what their subordinates are doing. For juniors, it is especially important that you be an example of the technical level to which they need to grow.

    And if in your submission there is a person who is stronger than you, you must also give him to develop and not limit his ability. The fact that you give teams to use new technologies in the product is also about technical excellence.

    “How deep do you know what they do?” After all, most managers in the same mobile development come from either iOS or Android, and at some point they have subordinates from both platforms. That's what to do here - urgently study the second platform, which you know is not so good?

    - There is no ideal depth, it is important to just understand. In your example, such a manager usually starts practicing Android, but you should not try to bring the architecture of an Android application to the architecture of iOS, I have often seen this, it negatively affects the work. And when you strive to understand how the guys work, how they come up with solutions, this is good. Depth itself is not so important, it is necessary to focus on the architectural part.

    - You talked about the developers who are stronger than you, that you need to give them grow. Will this undermine credibility?

    - No, if you built the right relationship. The head has a key role. I try to recruit people to a team stronger than me, they allow me to invent new things. Otherwise, you just give instructions that are executed, and neither you nor your team develop.

    Well, about authority. It is important that this does not happen in public. You can discuss with the developer, one-on-one-one, what and how with a specific solution. But when you are humiliated in public, you cease to be an authority on everyone else.

    - You are not afraid that they will come with solutions that you will not understand?

    “There are two important things here.” If you are engaged in technical improvement and hold meetings, then the likelihood that you do not understand something, tends to zero. And do not forget to carry out the code review and watch how people write the code and how it works.

    - You also said that it is important for employees to realize what exactly they are doing. How to achieve this?

    - Yes, there are a million ways. Let me tell you how not to do it.

    Strongly demotivates when you shift the responsibility for something to another person. Here is an example. You come to the employee and say: “Sanya, we need to move to a new build server, get ready”. But he does not want. And then you say that it is necessary, because some conditional Vanya said so. Or you ask him to make a feature, but he does not want. You say that the business said to do, then we do.

    And then you don’t just stop being an authority for him, but he understands that the quality of this task is not so important to you, it’s important for you to do it formally, that's all. Formalism appears, which destroys all motivation.

    This does not mean that you should deceive him and sell him even the most fig idea as a candy, no. But if you want to do something, you have to sell it to an employee in a good way. Explain what real advantages this will bring. The main thing is that the task comes from you.

    Of course, you can discuss with the team its feasibility. If someone doesn’t like it, let them tell you what they don’t like. And here you can either honestly prove why she is cool and have to be done, or to step back and say that OK, someone else will do it. Or will not do at all.

    - Well, we discussed how to build motivation, now an important issue. How not to spoil everything?

    - The main thing is to do it all the time and not to score on it. Do not think that there are some little things. I had a case here, an employee quit 3 months after I called him wrong, confused the name. I then came recently to the new team, but such a trifle of the type “Vanya, I'm sorry, I called you Sanya” so sunk into the soul that he quit. My jamb here is that I did not notice this in time and did not properly communicate with him afterwards, which led to his complete demotivation and dismissal.

    There are no trifles here, it is always necessary to prepare normally for meetings. It is important how you assign tasks to employees, you should not have too many direct subordinates. Tet-a-thets should not become a chore, people should have normal tasks and normal money. If you hammer on all this, fakap is inevitable.

    - When is it better to start the practice of non-financial motivation?

    - If you previously didn’t do this as a manager, and then you rushed to gather meetings and talk with everyone like that, it will probably look strange. Here the smoothness of the solution is important, gradually starting it all. I chose the moment of the salary change, and after that I began to build relationships. By itself, the moment of raising salaries slightly increases motivation, and as a manager it is already easier for you to begin to motivate non-financially.

    This can be a kind of trigger, they say, raise the salary and begin to build relationships. Then someone who, but I chose this way. First financially, and then so, if suddenly I took it for a while at the very moment of admission of an employee to the team.

    - We were here in Chatik asked how to motivate remotes.

    - In principle, there is no difference, except for the distance. A little harder to do, yes, personal contact simplifies motivation issues. Immediately you are far away and see on Skype. In such cases, I would advise sometimes to come to such teams and communicate with them personally. But here it is important to do so that these visits are not reporting concerts, that the grass in front of you is not painted and so on. Everything should be transparent, warn in advance about your arrival, do not go to another monastery with your charter. And then you come this way and start: “Do you come to work from 10 o'clock and not to 9?”, And they always come to 10, that's how they have it here. Just behave with them as you would with your guys in the office. These are the same people and employees.

    - It seems that this motivation is strongly tied to the relationship between the manager and the employee. If the manager leaves, is it impossible that the whole team is so demotivated that it goes after him or just falls apart?

    - And this is to the fact that you should not motivate very large groups, but only groups of 3-5 people, subject to nesting. Then leaving the head does not finish the organization, the groups will remain.

    Of course, when the leader leaves, it’s as unpleasant as possible. I did not see the companies where the leader was leaving, and all of them are: “Well, come on, pokeda, everything is cool here.” This is a huge de-motivation, and it is important who then takes his place, what he will say when he comes. Will try to figure out how everything works. From this depends largely on the fact whether it will continue to fall apart or not.

    If these three and five employees around the leader are lined up normally, everything will not collapse like a house of cards. But if you have 15 people for whom the leader is you, and not their techlids, here you will be in chaos when you leave. Someone will go after you, someone to the market. But the organization is crumbling. And groups allow you to maintain integrity.

    - OK, here you have 5 people, excellent leads in directions, everything is fine with them. How to make sure that after your departure did not go and they?

    - There was such an experience. The reasons for leaving are different, but you have to stay honest with colleagues. For example, you know that the company is closing, no one will pay more, and you just quietly dump - this is a bad moment. And if you honestly say that you had a row with a big boss and now you leave, then this is perceived quite differently. Because this is your problem with your manager, not a team issue.

    It is also important how the manager leaves. I met a company where the caretaker dragged the team behind him. I myself am strictly negative about this, changing my place of work, I did not take anyone with me. I think it's karmically wrong.

    - Let me briefly summarize. Financial motivation is good, people need to pay normally, offices are needed are comfortable, but this is not enough. The salary increase works, but for a small period of time, after the award, people quit.

    - Non-financial motivation is a tete-a-theta, discussion of problems, personal and workers. Training employees, pumping their weaknesses. Technical improvement - the team should understand what their subordinates are doing. The most important thing: the manager must convey to everyone the value of what they are doing.

    Exactly. It is also important to remember that the story about non-financial motivation grows with the team and is not built right away, one cannot hope that it will be built very quickly. You need to keep an eye on this, and then you will have a great team with which you will move mountains.


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