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Ask Slashdot: Best Incentives For IT Workers?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the try-this-delicious-addictive-coffee dept.

The Almighty Buck 468

New submitter Guru Jim writes "Our company is currently looking at our incentives program and are wondering what is out there that helps motivate IT workers. We have engineers/sys admins as well as developers. With both teams, we have guns who are great and really engaged in looking after the customers, but some of the team struggle. Sometimes it is easy to say that there isn't too much work on and goof off and read Slashdot all day. This puts more pressure on some of the team. Management is being more proactive in making sure the work is shared equally, but we are wondering what can be out there that is more carrot than stick? We already have cake day, corporate massage day, bonuses for exams and profit share, but what is out there that is innovative and helps build a great workplace?" If you're reading this, the odds are good that you work in or around IT (or hope to); what would you most like to see your workplace implement?

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"we have guns" . . . (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41507611)

That sounds like enough of an incentive to me.

Re:"we have guns" . . . (5, Interesting)

DrLang21 (900992) | about 2 years ago | (#41507673)

Profit sharing based on a broad range of metrics in the company (profit, efficiency, quality goals, etc) along with quarterly meeting to go over the status of those metrics. This quite litterally ties everyone's efforts together.

Re:"we have guns" . . . (5, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#41507919)

this only works if there is trust with management. I use to work for a company that did this and the upper management always picked goals that miraculously never could be met. This happened for years....

Re:"we have guns" . . . (5, Informative)

TheEldest (913804) | about 2 years ago | (#41507941)

I think short term rewards help more than long term.

For my team when you're above your execution rate for a week you are eligible to work from home one day the next week. In general, no one does anything when they work from home but to be eligible, they have to get their work done in the office. It's effectively getting people to work harder 4 days a week for an extra day off.

Obviously, this may or may not work with your environment.

Re:"we have guns" . . . (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#41507849)

You get more with the carrot than with the stick, so unless you're employing a group of starving donkeys I suggest cold, hard cash.

Re:"we have guns" . . . (1)

jgrahn (181062) | about 2 years ago | (#41507965)

You get more with the carrot than with the stick, so unless you're employing a group of starving donkeys I suggest cold, hard cash.

People are different. Many would just want their job to suck less, to be more interesting, containing fewer artificial obstacles and so on ...

Obligatory... (4, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#41508007)

You get more with the carrot than with the stick, so unless you're employing a group of starving donkeys I suggest cold, hard cash.

This is obviously true [] . Unfortunately, giving pennies to lots of peons would mean fewer dollars for senior management to plunder^W uh, award themselves in well-deserved hard-earned bonuses. The stick is what you'll get, because carrots are reserved for management.

Cheetos. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507615)

Or Doritos. Or Fritos.

Meaningful work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507851)

People need meaningful work. Not all your work is meaningful. Cycle people in and out of the shit jobs. By the way, some folks definition of a shit job doesn't match others. I'm perfectly happy to bring the shred bin out to the shred truck for $40/hr. Some of my guys, however, are absolutely offended when I ask them if they'd take the shred out.

Flex time is the other "thing". We're pretty generous. I don't really care when you work, as long as your work gets done. As long as it doesn't screw up the team, we'll give you a roughly arbitrary amount of unpaid time off, and going to the doctor's office or picking up a sick kid is not a problem. Still need to hit deadlines and what, but I really don't want you at work if you're angry or sick.

Short-term cashflow problems are much easier to take care of with the sabatical, too. Right now, work is hard to find, and people are scared. Given the option of staying on at 5 hours/week of telecommuting + health care, versus getting laid off, we do pretty well. It's also helped our unemployment insurance, since folks who see the writing on the wall can get a new job while still technically employed, and we don't have to deal with firing them.

Re:Meaningful work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507943) snacks? :(

More guns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507619)

With both teams, we have guns who are great and really engaged in looking after the customers, but some of the team struggle.

Daily reports (4, Insightful)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41507623)

Every day, each employee e-mails a short report of what s/he did that day. It doesn't take too long, and it encourages mutual accountability, even if only a few co-workers read them regularly.

Re:Daily reports (1, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | about 2 years ago | (#41507655)

Throwing bureaucracy at it is an incentive? Sounds like a disincentive to do projects that are either researchy or slow. Who the hell wants to do the disassembly of the magic bootstrap code that can take weeks of stepping through Roms, when you can be quickly coding a brainless API implementation?

Re:Daily reports (2, Insightful)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41507711)

Throwing bureaucracy at it is an incentive? Sounds like a disincentive to do projects that are either researchy or slow. Who the hell wants to do the disassembly of the magic bootstrap code that can take weeks of stepping through Roms, when you can be quickly coding a brainless API implementation?

I'm not talking about writing a giant tome. It could be just a handful of bullet-points. Include, e.g., brief "brags" on micro-successes, or frustrations with using a particular tool. And you can personalize it by adding jokes, recipes, interesting haiku, whatever.

Also, there should be no judgement on the report contents, or punishment for not doing them. Instead, offer small rewards or incentives for actually completing them regularly.

Re:Daily reports (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507881)

That idea really sucks.

Re:Daily reports (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507893)

If I need a "brag" about my achievements then I need a new workplace. Let me manage my own time, provide me with the tools to effectively complete my work, randomly drop-by my cubicle once or twice a week to informally chat for a few minutes (2-5 minutes). If my co-workers are screw-up, fire them. if my co-workers are bullies, in any sense of the word, fire them. If you, as my manager, cannot meet this requirement, you should be fired. If I need two days to mentally attack a problem, leave me alone. If I need you, as my manager, to approve some out of office time, be available and do not require me to make-up the time. My mind works on your problems, consciously and subconsciously, 24 hours a day; respect me as a professional rather than as a cog in the machine. Weekly written status reports I can handle. Above all, if a co-worker is disrupting the cohesion of the team, fire the co-worker. Passive-aggressive co-workers kill an enjoyable workplace.

Re:Daily reports (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507959)

That approach is misguided, not only because it is a waste of valuable time, but also because employees will be encouraged to add fluff to their daily reports.

Before we took idiot boy(our former boss) out of the picture, he was making us do daily logs of all our work. In a scientific instrument repair shop, this led to employees writing bullshit bullet points like "researched and processed part orders and documentation" when all they did was take a literal minute to fill out an excel sheet and drop it in a box. My favorite bullet point was, I shit you not, "Waited for paint to dry," written by an underperforming tech after he had applied touch-up paint to a finished system.

Now imagine the horrific possibilities of abuse in an IT context. For example, you can look forward to seeing shit like, "Utilized State-of-the-art virtualization to improve performance and disk usage, enabling for easy dynamic expansion. " Just for doing what they do every day. Get the picture?

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Daily reports (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#41508013)

Except for the fact that it encourages people to use company time to get nothing done. What does this accomplish? Do I really want to spend 15 minutes out of my day to say:

Worked on testing X program
Fixed X Bug
Discovered X bug
Worked on patching X bug
Wrote e-mail about patching X bug

The life of most IT workers is fairly boring and honestly, who wants to read about it? Business communication is stressful enough for a good chunk of workers I hardly consider having to write more business communication an incentive. In fact, I know that me and a good chunk of my immediate co-workers we hate the "business" atmosphere, we'd much rather just get stuff done, produce good, reliable code that works rather than worrying about a "business atmosphere".

Re:Daily reports (1)

burni2 (1643061) | about 2 years ago | (#41507715)

Is actually a very bad idea because you can tweak a report and this will only put more pressure on your overachievers, weekly reports and no other reporting sideways, this keeps the bureaucracy in a good balance.

Mostly when your team members aren't achieving the intended amount of work then you need to find out why. And you should stop idiotic things like cake day or company message day, because in the eyes of the overachievers they will most likely feel goofed around and the underachievers will accept this and eat the cake.

Cake day is good but don't mix up your intentions.

The chance, find out what makes an overachiever so determined for their work
- perfectionism
- company binding

Find the difference between under and over doers, and then you will be able to boost all, but don't think your underachievers will reach top levels most likely not.

Btw. the main problem,
- responsibility (task is given with less explantion no liberty of thougt, you got to do what you got to do!)
- praising falls short

btw. sometimes your under achievers if they change their job within the company they can turn 180 !

Re:Daily reports (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507725)

This makes employees unhappy. Tasks should be recorded in a database anyway (I use SharePoint). Even if it doesn't take too long, it is still extra work. Tracking work of employees should be done so you can track the work (accountability), not track the employee.

Re:Daily reports (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507729)

- Administration: 2 hours
  - Writing this report: 10 minutes
  - Accounting for this report during the day: 10 minutes
  - Bathroom and breaks: 40 minutes
  - Telling others what I will be doing in the future (because they asked): 4 hours
  - Doing work: 1 hour

My typical day. I explained to my manager that's what they'll likely see in the report. They called bullshit. I asked them to watch. They were horrified at the wasted time talking to other teams telling them every day what I was going to do but couldn't get to, and that they didn't just hang up (or leave my cube) and let me work when I told them "I'd have done 1 hour of work if I didn't spend 1 hour on the phone telling you I would do 1 hour of work today".

In the end, I didn't have to write up more reports, and nothing got fixed because those idiots are from other departments and nobody cares. I still spend 4 hours a day telling people what I will do and that I can't do it because I'm telling you I will do it instead of doing the work. If this company weren't imploding *and* the largest tech employer in the city (and I didn't own a house), I'd have already found another job. *sigh*

Re:Daily reports (2)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 2 years ago | (#41507913)

So, your manager excused you from a task that takes 10 minutes, but did nothing about the 4 hours of walk-up requests you're still getting?

If I were you, I'd include in my report some pre-emptive answers to the questions I'm likely to get.

Re:Daily reports (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507745)

If people are struggling find out why,

It could a training issue, boredom issue, expectation issue, it could be about a million different things.

You will never know why unless you ask...

Re:Daily reports (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41507759)

That would describe what you did, but not how you did it in neither quality or effort. If you're on a scrum or scrummish team you probably already have this in your daily stand-up, we actually do it sitting down but there's a round around the table on what you did get done, will be doing and any issues/assistance you might need. That's entirely for productivity reasons though, not motivating people that aren't pulling their share.

Re:Daily reports (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41507967)

Mentioning daily scrum meetings and productivity in the same paragraph is adorable. Sure, *perhaps* daily scrum meetings are useful if you have a very inexperienced (or incompetent) team - workers and/or management, but they're otherwise counter productive. Having it included in the concept of "agile" is very, very funny. Now excuse me, I have actual work to do, and if/when I need to coordinate with someone, I'll contact them or they me.

Re:Daily reports (4, Insightful)

Iskender (1040286) | about 2 years ago | (#41507777)

If you make writing daily reports someone's job, chances are that's exactly what it'll become. Meaning they concentrate on things that look good in the report, and little else. For an example, consider how the No Child Left Behind standardised follow-up system has made teaching/studying with only tests in mind common.

If mutual accountability is desired, I think communicating with (talking to!) other people is much better.

Re:Daily reports (2)

npetrov (1170273) | about 2 years ago | (#41507859)

I have been doing daily reports for a while. The way I do them - I keep an excel file where I have a column for a short summary of what I worked on during the day. If I had an issue and it needs to be fixed - I will write it there too. At the end of the day I'd send an email to my managers with a summary of what I did. Usually no more than 2 3-line paragraphs. What this really helps me with is to make sure management sees that I actually produce or research a lot each day. This also makes me want to complete things by the end of the day as opposed to leaving them for the next day.

I keep forgetting, dilbert ain't fiction (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#41507857)

There really are pointy haired bosses and ClickOnThis is one of them.

Nobody reads daily reports, they are useless. And if you need to read them, you are useless.

You see, in a real company and not in manager lala-land, people got their tasks and they are given them by other people. Only those people really need to know. If you need to know about an activity, you need to know in advance and if you don't need to know, you don't need to know. And nobody is going to spend hours after the office closed reading what other people did. And do it in the morning? Then you are one of those time wasters.

The only people that think daily reports are useful are clueless managers who have no idea what is going on but are re-assured that since they get a list each day, something must have happened. The trick is to just fill such reports with enough random activity to look busy without taking to much time to generate and then concentrate on whatever you are doing for real. In a big enough company, it don't even matter. It is better to be thought spending weeks on a dozen trivial tasks then a single day working on one important one. Daily reports are not valued by their accuracy, but by their length. And be sure to put ANY tasks you possibly might get any time in the future,is part of the TODO list, it makes you look on top of things.

I fear one day getting a competent manager, I wouldn't know what to do. Luckily the changes of that happening are zero.

Ten to one ClickOnThis will one day introduce the daily report at the end of the day and the breakfast standup.

Re:Daily reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507865)

You Sir, you are a moron (and probably a boss with the people skills of a squirrel). That's the last thing you want to ask from IT Workers, MORE PAPER CRAP (to write and to read).

I'm a systems engineer, from my eight hour workday i spend about two hours really working on system (if i'm lucky), the rest is paper crap, meetings, more meetings, even more meetings, getting yelled at by my boss 'cause i spend so much time in meetings that i do not want to attend etc... If you want to give incentivies to IT Workers, get some secretarys for them that are trained for paper crap and let the IT workers do IT.

Re:Daily reports (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41507939)

That's the last thing you want to ask from IT Workers, MORE PAPER CRAP (to write and to read).

You're in IT but you can't automate paperwork.... A little bash script and I've got a daily report.

If you want to give incentivies to IT Workers, get some secretarys for them

Not secretary, apprentice aka intern. Not as crazy of an idea as you'd think. You don't want to pay an IT guy $50/hr to do the job of an $8/hr file clerk or intern anyway.

Re:Daily reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41508011)

That's the last thing you want to ask from IT Workers, MORE PAPER CRAP (to write and to read).

You're in IT but you can't automate paperwork.... A little bash script and I've got a daily report.

No, you can't automate paperwork, that's why it's called paperwork. You obviously don't ever had to use an ERP like SAP, that shit alone takes an hour to fill in, then there are the company specific tools (like some tools directly from hell that i'm not even gonna mention here), excel-sheets (always fun, because EVERY problem in a company can be solved by yet another execl-sheet, prefered with colors so you can't parse it easily with a script) and all the other fun things my boss want's me to do, in addition to a workload for stuff i really should do to fill 8hrs/day....

If you want to give incentivies to IT Workers, get some secretarys for them

Not secretary, apprentice aka intern. Not as crazy of an idea as you'd think. You don't want to pay an IT guy $50/hr to do the job of an $8/hr file clerk or intern anyway.

Fine by me, everything that let's me do the work i'm actually getting paid for and offload the papercrap to the $5/hr dude, but that's not how corporations work, they seem to PREFER to pay me 100$/hr to be grumpy all day 'cause i'm fed up with SAP...

Re:Daily reports (4, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41507917)

A status report is one of the most hated things tech people do. I know it's necessary sometimes, but I literally remember jobs much more fondly when I don't have to do them. And it's not because I don't get work done, it's because I hate the idea of having to think of something every day that I did which makes me look like I am doing my job.

I like the ability to be given goals, a deadline, and achieve things on time and well. And as an engineer, and as a manager, if I set reasonable goals and they are achieved, that is a big plus for me. It may well be a good idea to break those projects down into smaller milestones for greater accountability, as well as a greater sense of achievement for the engineer who can say they got something done. If a worker wants to spend all week long reading the web and still gets my task done within the time limit and within the acceptable level of quality, I don't care what they do. If they fail, of course, they know it and I do too.

Now, I would agree that on a personal level, it may be a good idea for engineers to write and record what they themselves did that day. That keeps them honest with themselves about what they actually did and did not do. I think reporting to others encourages people to be less honest with themselves about what they are really doing because they have to risk looking bad in front of their managers and colleagues. The people who are best at that will be those who have a certain style of work, or those who know how to bullshit on reports. Some people work better when facing deadlines and have some pressure on them, but are nearly idle when there's no pressure on them. Those people will look lazy when the reality is that they achieve as much as the people with the other habits, and sometimes more the the bullshitters.

In the end, give your people reasonable goals, keep them broken down into discrete tasks, and call them out if and when they fail to deliver on those tasks within reason. If they fail to deliver, then I could see some remedial measures being applied. At that point, you can instruct them to record what they did that day, and expect disclosure. Or you could suggest to them that they take some time to evaluate their own habits and if they fail again, they face mandatory improvement plans or they can find a new job.

The major things that motivate engineers are going to be a sense that they did their job well, that they are making enough money to support their families and hobbies, and that there is a sense they can excel and move ahead in some way within your organization. If I was in charge of the whole organization and had budget authority at a high enough level, I'd probably schedule a quarterly bonus and review cycle based on achievement of assigned goals with a stated level of quality and also some monetary incentive for innovation. I'd also make sure that my workers did not spend more than 40 hours in the workplace, and I would send their asses home if they tried to stay longer, unless we truly did have a real emergency, and not an emergency caused by my inability to plan properly.

Managers can be just as shitty or as excellent as engineers can be, and they do have a very real job which is complementary, not antagonistic with a good engineer. Managers make sure that they understand the people and resources they have on hand, they plan well, and they find out how their people work their best. If a manager can make someone happier while getting the job done, they do that because your business invests a lot in retaining good workers. Good workers are also there for you when the shit hits the fan and you have no choice but to deliver no matter what. And when good engineers manage to pull your shit out of the fire, you let them know they were critical in saving everyone's ass.

Oh, and one other thing. The best way to motivate good workers is to (after a very clear process and opportunities to improve), fire those who are not delivering. Make it clear that you value the people you work with by removing the people who make everyone else look bad. Mind you, you don't have to fire anyone, but you definitely make it clear that there are reasonable standards of work you expect, which align with finishing tasks on time, and that you won't allow the rest of the team to suffer cleaning up someone else's mess.

Re:Daily reports (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41507931)

Every day, each employee e-mails a short report of what s/he did that day. It doesn't take too long, and it encourages mutual accountability, even if only a few co-workers read them regularly.

Sorry, but that idea has pointy-haired boss written all over it.

Hopefully others will also explain the obvious stupidity of your suggestion, but I will offer the following: not everyone needs to know - nor read - about everything, everyday, nor will everyone understand everything. Furthermore, are you suggesting a many-to-one or many-to-many email arrangement? Both are wildly wasteful of good employees' and managers' time.

Re:Daily reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507991)

Horrible idea. Mine company does a version of this every day where we have a meeting and everyone has a short amount of time to report on what they have worked on. Biggest waste of time ever, no one wants to be there, no one really pays attention to what anyone else is saying because it's just reports, there's no collaboration allowed, and it always tends to happen right when you're in the flow of programming. Daily reports are ridiculous - there's a difference between providing incentives to do more or better work and micromanaging and annoying your employees - you'll find people do a bunch of filler stuff just so they more to report on.

You answered yourself (1)

Multiplicity (2498210) | about 2 years ago | (#41507631)

With both teams, we have guns

What better incentive than that?

In house escort service (5, Funny)

Rivalz (1431453) | about 2 years ago | (#41507633)

Not the best for productivity but best incentive that works for Secret service agents, presidents, politicians and ceo's.

Money (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507635)

$ = Money

Seriously (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 2 years ago | (#41507957)

Want motivation? Pay more money. Best incentive ever.

Its so easy . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507637)

Fire 'certified jerk' managers - that'll do wonders.

It sounds like you have a lot of carrots already (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#41507641)

assuming that pay is fair for the tasks in question. If you know who is "slacking off," is it worth talking to them, and find out why?

Or are they actually have some valuable downtime, breaking up their day and giving them a chance to think and refresh?

Re:It sounds like you have a lot of carrots alread (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#41507945)

micro-managing what people are doing will ensure they won't produce. When you only worry about what people are getting done and not when exactly it is getting done in the day I have had so much better results. I know how much effort it takes to do certain tasks. If you want to screw off all day and program until 4am, fine with me.

Autonomy, mastery, purpose (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507645)

I will skip the obvious free drinks/food/social events and financial incentives.

When it comes to work, it is about this: Autonomy, mastery, purpose.
Give everyone meaningful, important and challenging work, so that their head is just above the water.
Let them be responsible for their work and reach the goal with their means and in their style as much as possible.
Let them improve themselves by doing so, send them on courses as well.
Automatise everything that can automated to get rid of repetitive, boring work.
Optimise anything, and challenge people to go back to the beginning.
Demand innovation, and allow time for it by doing "innovation time off" / "hack time" / 10 percent time.

Re:Autonomy, mastery, purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507993)

Automatise everything that can automated to get rid of repetitive, boring work.
Optimise anything, and challenge people to go back to the beginning.
Demand innovation, and allow time for it by doing "innovation time off" / "hack time" / 10 percent time.

If they're goofing off on Slashdot, then they already have time to do that and they're not. That means for whatever reason, they don't give a shit.

I got a feeling this company does something like reports for insurance companies implemented in COBOL or something equally boring.

There's a lot more going on here than what the asker is saying.

The surprising truth about what motivates us (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#41508001)

From RSA Animate: []

Which supports your point, depending on the nature of the task.

There are also some other somewhat differing ideas like on this Wikipedia page, especially this section: []

easy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507647)

rational and transparent decision making processes

merit based rewards structure

aggressive correction and eventual culling of counterproductive employees

pay me enough that I can get my own massages, keep your stupid toys out of my office, and
run an effective business

Start with the basics (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41507649)

Good hardware, good monitors, good tools, allow them to pick some of their own (IDEs, OS, editors, etc). Keep up to date with technologies. Treat people like people, not "resources". After that, use some agile/XP principles like scrums to enable problems to be out in the open, and pair programming to get the weaker people improving. Give bonuses for outstanding quality and quantity of work. Listen to what people complain about and try to fix it.

Re:Start with the basics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507787)

Bonuses for individuals or for teams?

This (OP) is a hard one because I'm unsure whether those teams will ever jell. I've seen what can happen with teams that lose their most, um, frictionate members and it is nice. On the other hand, I'd rather not force anyone to leave, it kind of destroys a lot of the fun. I've also heard it said that you have to find the right positions for people to get the best out of them. I'd like to learn more about that. Maybe it's their position in the team that reduces their motivation?

What /is/ important for them? Is there a way to align that with what's important for the company (customer)?

I'd ask them. And the team, just like Nerdfest.

Maybe even "I'd like to see you more eagerly help customers get what they need. Is there anything I can do to help you feel enthusiastic about your work?"

two links for you... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507659)

First watch this:

Then read this:

"Big Brother" them to death! (1)

pro151 (2021702) | about 2 years ago | (#41507677)

A company I am more than a little familiar with requires the entire I.T. staff to account for every minute that they are on the clock via their Electronic ticket system. Now there is some motivation to give a shit and always perform at your best each and every day.

Why are you asking us instead of them? (1)

michael_rendier (2601249) | about 2 years ago | (#41507681)

First thing you're gonna have to do is ask your employees...there is no step two...

Re:Why are you asking us instead of them? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41507871)

Sometimes they want ponies.

one word: blowjobs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507683)

it works for marriages, why not work?

Re:one word: blowjobs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507737)

Geeze! I already have to kiss management's asses, now I have to give them head as well?!?

Planned work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507685)

Just make sure that important work is scheduled and followed up on. The thing that can lead to inertia in IT is lack of focus and some sort of direction. Some people thrive in that situation and just pick up whatever needs to be done, but most people just zone off to make time pass by. More incentives will just make the ones already doing their work get more benefits while it will not make the slackers pick up anything important.

Tangible Property for Admins (1)

detritus. (46421) | about 2 years ago | (#41507687)

Since no one has suggested it, I'll throw this out there:

What about rack space? Hey, if my shit goes down too or needs maintenance, I'm going to go out of my way to be there after hours, and perhaps catch up on a little work while waiting for my stuff to install/replicate.

The non-innovative answer: Use the stick (2, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41507689)

If you've given people everything they could reasonably ask for, including profit share, and they still aren't performing, then chances are they're just lazy. Solution: 1. Make it clear (privately) that they are underperforming, 2. if they are still underperforming 3-6 months later, let them know that their job is at stake, and 3. if they're still underperforming 3-6 months after that, fire them.

There are some people who will want to contribute and provide useful effort with the appropriate carrot. But if that doesn't work, use the stick.

Re:The non-innovative answer: Use the stick (1)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | about 2 years ago | (#41507707)

Or just fire them now and outsource.

Re:The non-innovative answer: Use the stick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507765)

If you want to end up with a pile of poorly-written scrap. Half our business is from people who outsourced their projects and then realized it was going to take a team of real software professionals to recover anything from what their outsourcing partners delivered.

Re:The non-innovative answer: Use the stick (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#41507933)

If you've given people everything they could reasonably ask for, including profit share, and they still aren't performing, then chances are they're just lazy.

Not everyone can count as one of the stars. Yes, he should ditch the outright slackers; but the guys who just come in to do a fair day's work to get paid and go home? Sorry, but in any organization, they will form the vast majority of the workforce. Unless your entire organization can live with a "team" of one superstar, you just don't have the option of having all stars.

As for reaching for the stick to try make people into something they can never become, it will just hurt morale for no real gain. Don't go that route. I've seen it tried several times, and it always backfires.

Do your best to keep people happy, keep them wanting to come to work every day, and just stoically accept the fact that over half the team really doesn't give a shit outside "get the job done, get paid".

More money (1)

Chemisor (97276) | about 2 years ago | (#41507703)

Give out bonuses based on performance, however measured. It works for the boss, so it's likely to work just as well for the employee.

Re:More money (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41507753)

Give out bonuses based on performance, however measured. It works for the boss, so it's likely to work just as well for the employee.

Top performer gets to pick who does their:

corporate massage day

Seriously though my favorite incentive program is called money. Another thing that works well is a professional relationship... Tell me what to do, when adequate progress is made I'll be free for self directed professional development...

Need indivudual rewards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507719)

> Management is being more proactive in making sure the work is shared equally, .... have cake day, corporate massage day, bonuses for exams and profit share, but what is out there that is innovative and helps build a great workplace?"

Those are all group rewards, not individual rewards. Your slackers probably get more massages and cake than the hard workers, because the slackers are away from their work, and the workers are too busy working to enjoy the rewards.

I was at a place that had massages once. You know who got them all? Execs, their secretaries, HR people, and slackers. It seems that I was always stuck with a "mission critical urgent bug-fix" whenever the masseuse was in.

You need to find a way to reward individual contributions... which is very hard in a "team" setting.

Re:Need indivudual rewards (1)

Amouth (879122) | about 2 years ago | (#41507869)

It's not that hard in a "team" setting if they are doing proper performance reviews and individual goal setting/growth plans. Too many companies (mine included) completely skim over this step of interaction with their employees. In the end it is in the companies own interest to know what is in your interests so that they can be aligned as much as possible, but that concept seems lost on current employers.

So says Alice ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507731)

"The government makes rectangular pieces of paper ..." -

Your work is boring and unchallenging. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507733)

You want to know why folks work their asses off to create shit for free and goof off at work when they're being paid for it?

1. The free shit they do is shit they find interesting. Whether the programming is interesting or challenging or they are wrting software that solves a problem that means something to them.

2. The work they are doing for your company is either unchallenging, does something meaningless in their opinion, or both.

All the high pay, pizzas, games, massages, or any other motivational tricks you got from a book (or worse from a know-nothing managment consultant) will not work - at least over the long term.

Here's what you do: start hiring entry level people to learn the system. The entry levels will find that work challenging and rewarding for a couple of years. You can pay them shit.

The current crop? Start letting some of them go. The best and brightest have already left.

That's all you can do.

Re:Your work is boring and unchallenging. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507937)

And then congratulate yourself for keeping the cycle going. Don't forget the big bonus you'll (not) receive for keeping the payroll low and churning through cogs while the company continues to tread water (if you're lucky).

Getting rid of some deadwood is necessary, and yes it's usually from the older crop. Getting new people in is usually a good thing as they have fresh eyes and new perspectives. The advocacy of wholesale chop and grind however is short sighted and ultimately self destructive to a company that's got a substantial investment in tech or, god forbid, is a tech company.

Too much turnover? (3, Insightful)

zephvark (1812804) | about 2 years ago | (#41507739)

>Management is being more proactive...

Ok, you're a marketing person. I'll forgive you. But never say proactive again.

>We already have cake day, corporate massage day

Your company obviously has too much turnover and you're trying desperately to reduce it. The problem is not going to be that you don't have enough cake days. The problem is going to be that it apparently sucks to work at your company. Cut down on the number of mandatory meetings, make sure everybody has a decent computer, get the damned boss to stop subverting the code check-in system, and... your programmers don't actually need to wear suits, do they? Stop that.

MONEY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507741)

Yes really. More money!

That's why we work for you. You pay us. Period. You want to give more? PAY US MORE!

Flexible working hours (5, Insightful)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | about 2 years ago | (#41507747)

Give them flexible working hours.

There's nothing worse than coming to work in the morning and trying to "work" after your kid puked the entire night and you haven't had half an hour of solid sleep, or if you have a splitting headache that just refuses to go away on its own, but would likely go away if you could nap or walk for a couple of hours (depends on the person).

IT is a line of work where flexible hours are possible. Give them that, but still keep work clocked every week.

Investing in IT guys (3, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#41507755)

Although a lot of companies would like to invest in their people, and give them incentives and so forth, one big problem in the IT arena is:

How to should you invest in your workers? I.e., send them to training. Or even let them just educate themselves about Java/Hadoop/NoSQL/whatever without working on a project for a few months. That in itself is great incentive instead of focusing on billable hours all the time.

The desire of the company is that you're investing in the future of the developer. But the problem is once they're all well and trained, they can simply jump ship, and the company isn't able to recoup their investment.

So what ends up happening is companies don't provide training, leading to the phenomenon of IT people having to read 2 hours of material every night just to keep up.

Culture Drives / Bonuses ... (3, Interesting)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | about 2 years ago | (#41507761)

I applaud the pro-active nature of the organization on this, and appreciate your efforts to have a strong preference of carrot over stick.

I have been managing IT Operations teams for ~10yrs now (with a rooted background in SysAdmin), and more often than not, in my own experience, it is the organizational culture that often strongly correlates to the work output of a collective team. I have worked on companies that paid absolutely ass and were not overly generous with there employees, yet people understood the purpose, the mission, and their role, and gave 110%. I have worked at companies that were more than generous with payroll and side benefits, and folks slacked off.

Without knowing you or your background (nor the respective company), I can say that folks are often cognizant of the extremes they can get away with at work. If you (or the company as a whole) conveys an easy-going atmosphere where even the slackers are well tolerated, well, water sinks to the lowest point. This can often be detrimental to others around them, as it results in "Well if they aren't going the extra mile, why should I?" I believe just about anyone who is reading this has had that very thought cross their mind at one point or another, and it can be a valid one. Giving someone free massages, or cupcakes, or even a hooker aren't exactly motivational items - actually, they work the other way, in that encouraging folks to "take a break" from things, these same folks who even when working you are suggesting aren't putting in a sound effort.

Solution? Again, without know you or the org, do away with the massages, and most other extraordinary benefits that cost the company money, and instead convert this to regular financial bonus incentive. Make a big point on how performance relates to money, and more times than not, I find folks will go above and beyond to earn the extra incentive. You may have a few bad apples you clearly need the stick, but between the two, I'd suggest you may be on the way to success.

Best of luck!

Re:Culture Drives / Bonuses ... (1)

Some Bitch (645438) | about 2 years ago | (#41507895)

Indeed, my favourite incentive has always been those rectangular vouchers the government prints that people let you swap for stuff.

Mail Order Brides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507779)

Sex is always a good incentive for IT types.

Free lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507781)

I have had many incentives thrown at me and I always liked the free lunch the best. And none of those toss me a wrapped sandwich lunches either. If your company is large enough, build a cafeteria.

Ask Slashdot: Best Incentives For IT Workers? (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41507789)

Best incentive of all:

Treat your employees like the human beings they are and appreciate what they do for you, and pay them accordingly. The golden rule as applied to the workforce.

It's not fucking rocket science.

It's just that "human resources management" these days, at its core, treats employees as overhead and cost centers instead of how a business earns its money.


Fire their ass. (1)

bjwest (14070) | about 2 years ago | (#41507799)

If you have workers that aren’t doing their share of the work, fire them. I'm sure you've already warned them, more than once, right? If not, it's your fault they don't do their fair share. If so, follow though with it. Hollow threats are just that. Start firing them one by one, and the rest will start to get the hint.

Management, not incentives required (3, Insightful)

canadian_right (410687) | about 2 years ago | (#41507807)

Sounds like some old fashioned management and coaching is required, not incentives. Management needs to talk to the under performing staff and find out what the underlying issues are and if they can be fixed. Maybe something is happening in their personal life, maybe they need training, maybe they need more challenging work?

Try the google approach (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507809)

Give your employees time to work on something company related that interests them personally.. !!!! I think alot of the google products that were built came out of that program, and it gives the employees a sense of belonging, the ability to really make a difference, the feeling of appreciation etc..

I cannot think of a better incentive myself!

Re:Try the google approach (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41507963)

I was going to suggest the same. Allow the employees to use a slice of work time to work on some personal project. Maybe it would work in other companies than Google, too.

Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507811)

If you haven't already seen this take a few minutes to watch it. They make the point that after one's basic needs are met financial incentives and perks are no longer motivating. Instead people are motivated by Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

I'd take neutrality - no glaring disincentives. (1)

Demoknight (66150) | about 2 years ago | (#41507819)

I'm finding that money or other financial incentives are not as standard and competitive as most people like but in general people don't respond to more pay - they get more pay because they're performing already. Something that is harder to quantify is respect for the "chain of command" for lack of a better word. I find that with IT we're too often minimized into being reduced to the lowest common denominator of being a resource. What helps me personally break free from that type of depressing perspective is having leadership that provides a sincere vision and clear objectives and actually makes people accountable for them. There's nothing more demotivating to me personally than doing work for work's sake.

I'm aware that I'm something of an idealist bordering on delusional :)

stay away from poor metrics as that can trun out (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41507825)

stay away from poor metrics as that can trun out real bad.

As it can become all about stuff like call times that make it better to do quick fixes / tell use to reboot and hang up.

Number of tickers closed can lead to people banking up easy stuff to save for a slow day or having people who don't want to take on hard stuff as they are better off doing 3-4 easy tickets over say 1 hard one.

Also stuff like that can be gamed by having some call each week for a password reset just to make your numbers.

Hourly pay. With overtime. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507835)

Seriously. "Salary" is one of the biggest screw-jobs in IT.

Just get out of the way (2)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | about 2 years ago | (#41507841)

The current employer I work for saddles on a lot of bureaucracy and endless, tormenting meetings. Just get out of the way and let people get their work done.

time off for working late / being on call (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41507845)

time off for working late / being on call and no makeing a deal about being late the next day if you had to work late the night before.

You just can't have all stars, plan accordingly (1)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#41507855)

With both teams, we have guns who are great and really engaged in looking after the customers, but some of the team struggle. Sometimes it is easy to say that there isn't too much work on and goof off and read Slashdot all day. This puts more pressure on some of the team.

This reads somewhat confusingly - You mean that sometimes one team has work and others don't? Or just that on both teams you have some stars and some slackers?

If the former - Simply break down your "team" boundaries! Most coders can handle admin/netops tasks; and although not everyone can code, everyone can help test, which (I say as a coder) often counts as half the work in getting any any large project.

If the latter - Trickier, because real life just works like that. You can of course fire the real slackers. The ones who do their job but have no desire to do more than it takes to get paid, however... Well, you can't really change that no matter what you offer them. At best, you can make sure they have "enough" to do to keep them busy. You might try matching management styles to each group - The superstars just need to hear someone say "go!", and they'll get it done; The 9-to-5'ers likely need more hands-on management (not micromanagement, but someone to semi-actively keep them engaged throughout the day and notice when they've had a bit too much downtime).

As for what motivates geeks in general - "Play" (by which I don't necessarily mean "competition"). Simple as that. Sometimes that means letting people find a cool new way to solve a mundane common task even though it might take a bit longer than necessary; sometimes it means letting them read Slashdot; and sometimes it literally means taking 15 minutes and having a Nerf finger-rocket war across the entire office.

Github example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507875)

Search for "how we work at github" . Very nice article.

A Good Place To Start (5, Insightful)

Akili (1497645) | about 2 years ago | (#41507891)

If you haven't come across this already, this is a good place to start: []

As an IT worker myself, one of the most difficult things I struggle with is the frequent lack of acknowledgement and respect. I don't mean simple 'thanks for helping me' responses - although those do count, and workplaces where all employees belittle IT will experience a lot of IT turnover - but for the big things. When we break out all the stops to achieve some huge project, or put in extra unpaid time - we're often salaried, after all - to help someone, the reward is sometimes to have expectations raised, rather than to understand that was an exceptional effort. That discourages us from trying so hard next time.

It's difficult for management to understand what we do, and what they don't understand, they sometimes don't respect. Bonuses are nice, as is comp time. But I really just want to keep things working, and it is distinctly aggravating when I can't prevent a recurring problem because it requires changing the behavior of someone superior to me that doesn't care to make a change, as I'll always be there to clean up their mess. In some cases, it feels like not bothering to install toilets in a restroom because that's what the janitor is for.

All of that said, when it comes to weeding out those that aren't contributing anything... some sort of tracking system is essential, for techs to keep tabs on what they've done. They'll rightfully treat it with skepticism if such a system comes from On High, as the plausible reasoning is to find out how much they can shrink the department. But when brought in with the cooperation of the staff and their immediate management, it can be trusted more. It's also a tool to demonstrate to upper management just how much work we ARE doing, and to justify extra manpower. Simply saying that you need an extra hand often goes nowhere, since IT is frequently seen as a money pit.

And, of course, listen to the techs, the experienced ones in particular. They're the ones that can feel that a piece of software isn't working properly, or that a piece of infrastructure is not up to the task. You don't need to do what they're talking about, but consider their opinion. They're here to understand, fix, and instruct people in how to use technology. Knowing that they're being heard, and seeing visible changes in response to that feedback, does a lot to make a tech feel valued.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507905)

Seems like theres extra slack in the company.

What I do at work and works for me... (4, Informative)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#41507953)

There are two things that motivate me, and the one can't do without the other, both motivation condition must be met for me to thrive at work:

1) A good salary, so I can work and save towards my biggest dreams, I have to have something to chase.

2) An interesting assignment, an interesting project. This is what makes me WANT to go to work every day.

Here is what works, and what doesn't work:
What doesn't work:
Telling me that every job is interesting, and that I should be interested when I am not.
Faking interest.
Fake team spirit. (I'd like to work with MOTIVATED co-workers that actually take a great interest in their job, passion if you like!)
Fake motivation. Don't even try, your employees can see through you like you're made of glass, the only reason they smile at your ideas are that you are directly responsible for their paychecks.

What DOES work:
Honesty, above all. Always be 100% honest towards your employees, fail at this, and we will be sure to look elsewhere, and one day you'll fail severely because your ego blinds your eyes. So keep honest, always share everything, don't fake, lie or hide. People are more forgiving than you may think.
Interesting projects. What's interesting to you may not be that interesting to me, sure - I am a professional, so I'll do the job regardless, but don't ask me to fake interest. Just trust me that I'll do a good job anyway, because I can and will...which brings us to the next level:
Trust me, trust your employees. The single best thing you can do for your employees are to really trust them. If they deliver, they deliver, nothing magical about that. We're all in this boat called YOUR Company anyway, and no one of us have ANY interest in letting it sink, so why should we perform worse if you don't constantly nag, create reports and call into personal meetings?
Don't believe that we'll sit there and surf the web because we really want to surf the web, this is something most of us can do at home, and if we do it at work, it is to relieve stress, and to keep up to date with an otherwise perhaps important network...yes...this could potentially be your next employee even. Many of us keep up to date with technology this way, we're paid professionals, just don't expect us to do that work at home too, we do it because it's our passion. Force is NOT the way.

Remember, a little understanding *and DO NOT TRY TO FAKE UNDERSTANDING* will go a really long way. Most IT workers are above average when it comes to intelligence (albeit, in some can really dispute and wonder about this). So when you try to explain to us why you have to cut back on bonuses, perks or whatever - tell the TRUTH, especially if you know the truth is going to sting a bit, if we discover that you lied, oh boy...mistake!

That's it really, some clean honesty.

If there's one thing I've learned... (3, Interesting)

aitikin (909209) | about 2 years ago | (#41507975)

If there's one thing that I've learned from my time in management positions after being in non-management positions, it's that incentives have to be personalized. I've given someone a 50 dollar bonus and saw no productivity increase, and given the same person a gift certificate for a pizza outing for her family, and she was overwhelmed with appreciation, as well as a major increase in productivity for the week following the gift certificate.

Reason being, she couldn't spend the 50 bucks on anything she wanted when she was a single mom who had to spend time with her kids every night and figure out dinner when she came home from work. When I didn't know she was a single mother, I didn't give her any incentive that she'd respond to. Knowing that she was a single mother, meant I could give her an incentive that she knew she'd be able to use and would make her life easier or better.

Until you can give your employees something that will help them out personally, they're just going to see that as a bonus, not a motivator. Give your management some leeway on what they give as an incentive, while you focus on the why . This forces your management to know their personnel somewhat personally, allows them to look good for giving the people something specifically useful to them, the company for giving management enough leeway, and the employee will want to earn incentives that (s)he knows is useful to them.

Bacon (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#41507977)

Free bacon as projects are finished. Crisp, hot and delicious. Of course, don't go for that el-cheapo CAFO factory farmed junk - serve premium pastured pork bacon to get the best motivation.

Sausage too...

And Boston Butt steaks...

I'm drooling.

Okay, so food!

Reports (1)

darkain (749283) | about 2 years ago | (#41507979)

I'm seeing lots of comments telling people to (dont) do daily reports, or similar tasks.

What my team has started doing is using the Trello web site for project management. Each task is added as a card, and then assigned people to work on it. Any notes are then added to the cards. This is by far the quickest system I've ever seen for day-to-day documentation. There is no more spread sheets or paragraphs of text to sort through. The cards themselves represent a summary of events, with more details after opening the cards. []

money (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41507981)

and... money

Corporate massages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507983)

Get rid of corporate massages for starters. Try to understand what motivates technical people isn't what motivates most other people. Massages, or being touched, is not something I want. Don't offer social incentives, because I don't want them. This stuff doesn't motivate me. I'd rather be left alone to read Slashdot. That -is- an incentive. You're employing creative people, and you should understand that often when they are -not- working on a problem is when everything clicks and falls into place. Three days of doing nothing and suddently getting the right solution which you can bang out in an hour is more productive than four days of grinding away.

Drive (4, Insightful)

Kevster (102318) | about 2 years ago | (#41507995)

Generally, three things motivate people:

  1. Autonomy - can they at least sometimes discover something on their own that needs doing/fixing and go ahead and do it without okaying it with management?
  2. Mastery - can they devote enough time to new things (e.g. technology) to feel that they are learning something *and* spending enough time on it to lead to mastery?
  3. Purpose - do they have a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves (as opposed to in name only: "there are six people in this group, therefore they are a team!")

These things drive most people and are completely lacking in my workplace. Search YouTube for "RSA Animate drive" for a better description than I gave.

Whiny unappreciating IT people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41507997)

Really? IT people are paid pretty well as it is, get plenty of time to screw off on the job (generally speaking) and they want more incentives? If you don't like it, go back to fucking retail where you get paid like a monkey and get bitched at for taking a minute or two to catch your breath.

Ob (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41507999)

With both teams, we have guns who are great and really engaged in looking after the customers

Are the best ones recognized as top guns?

Does the same one always deal with the same customer? Or are they revolvers?

Do they travel out to the customers' sites? I guess that makes them field guns.

et fucking cetera...

I was gonna say free time or money... (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41508009)

But corporate "massage" day sounds like just what a geek needs! :D

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