LeadershipManagement 3.0

How to increase motivation in development teams?

In order to make a statement about how motivation can be increased in teams, it is first of all important to know what kinds of motivation there are. Daniel Pink describes three forms of motivation in his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”:

  1. To survive. Our activities are determined by eating, drinking, reproduction, and fear.
  2. Reward and punishment. Good work is rewarded, bad is punished.
  3. Intrinsic motivation. The goal here is to have team members perform activities on their own initiative.

There are three main factors responsible for intrinsic motivation:

  • Autonomy: The urge to organize ourselves
  • Mastery: The desire to become better at something meaningful
  • Purpose: The longing for something bigger to do things

Predominant in classic companies is the second type of motivation — reward and punishment. The goal-setting discussion alone makes this clear: The supervisor sets goals for the employee. When these are reached, he receives a bonus. If these are not achieved, in some cases even the notice to quit follows. This can certainly motivate one or the other employee, but it also creates enormous pressure which promotes an anxious environment where people are afraid of making mistakes.

By comparison, in the case of intrinsic motivation, the driving force to implement things comes from the employee himself. This is probably the most effective way to succeed. Therefore, it also represents the basis for innovative development.

Intrinsically motivated developers meet us every day

If you look at Open Source projects, they evolved by their own impulse, free of charge, and self-organized. Developers from a wide range of countries are joining forces across borders to work together on a vision. So they not only spend their free time but also educate themselves further. The developed products are often even more successful than commercial products.

How do I use this potential for my company?

First, employees should be trusted. When employees begin to develop freely, mental blocks are released and a creative environment can emerge. As a result, new ideas and visions rise, creating a culture of experimentation and learning. Employees no longer work only for the sake of work, but to create something and take responsibility for it.

How do I promote this?

The organization of special events, such as a Hackathon, can help. The goal here is to develop useful, creative, or entertaining software within a fixed timeframe. In the beginning, all participants are self-organized in teams. This not only includes developers but also employees from other departments. The result is cross-functional teams working together on an idea. In the end, all teams will be rewarded for their ideas.

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