Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Motivating people

Much as I wrote about my project management experience and its apparent success, what hasn't still be achieved is motivating the tech interns. Let us see, you give free lodging in a flat with a caretaker to cook cuisine that we ask, pay all expenses, free commute, provide unlimited internet connectivity, put us into a room full of interns, free coffee and tea from vending machines, as has been the case for us EB interns, I mean, why would we think of working ? And on top of all this, you also promise a PPO to them :)
I've always worked with self-motivated people at a workplace, and I was shocked to hear one of my team-mates talking about taking things easy. EB is supposed to create a startup environment, but "startup environment" doesn't necessarily mean small and talented bunch of people working on a tech project. It also means motivated people idealistic (and stupid) enough to try to take on a well-established behemoth, without even knowing whether the company would survive until next week. It also means knowing that losing a single customer deal can probably prove to be the death of the company, and so, everybody, including the developers at the lowest level are highly customer-focussed. Now, since the essential ingredient called motivation is missing, it is left to someone senior to motivate them.
As a project manager, I am responsible for getting project done. And that means I'm responsible for motivating them. But how ? I'm sitting on their backs, even looking at core tech issues - hoping that they'd get tired of me and to get rid of me, they'd start doing their work. But it hasn't worked yet.
Since I'm as much an intern as those guys are, and as less a manager as those guys are, I really can't pull rank on them and order them to do anything. And that leaves me with the last weapon - their pride. If you can't work for honour, then the only thing left is pride (and believe me, each one of us has loads of it). So, I can make that the pawn in this game, and bring the question of pride to each issue.
I really don't like this, not because they're going to hate me (I'm used to people hating me), but because I feel I'm manipulating them, I'm striking below the belt as it were... I wish I knew how to do it better.
It reminds me of the book "On the Basilisk Station" by David Weber (it can be read online ... legally) - I wish real life problems were that easy to solve.

6 Comments:

At Sunday 25 June 2006 at 4:55:00 PM IST, Blogger P H Karthik said...

I did not understand the post Sridhar. Can you please elaborate how you used their pride to make them work?

 
At Tuesday 27 June 2006 at 10:42:00 AM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

@karthik:
It is very simple (but not easy). Everybody I've met so far is egoistic and do have some delusions about their abilities (me too !). So, all I need to do is to strike at their sense of self-respect and pride. The tough part lies in understanding their internal vulnerabilities.

There is no precise technique in doing that. To a person who thinks of himself as good coder, it can be as simple as saying "are you sure this is not too difficult for you to handle ?" (questioning their ability) or "do you want me to come and debug this for you ?" (an *MBA* trying to do their job ?) to being sarcastic if necessary.
I detest this option because it is downright manipulation of people, since it gives me an undue advantage. And probably because, it can also backfire.

 
At Saturday 1 July 2006 at 2:52:00 PM IST, Blogger P H Karthik said...

Ya thanks! Now I understood. I also agree. It is very effective.

 
At Thursday 6 July 2006 at 1:56:00 PM IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't there anything you can do to motivate these people? Rather than trying things which have a negative connotation, and which make u uncomfortable too?
-Shruthi

 
At Friday 7 July 2006 at 1:38:00 PM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

@shruthi:
if u hv everything u want, how can u be motivated ?

 
At Wednesday 27 September 2006 at 7:22:00 PM IST, Anonymous karuna said...

will try to remember this next time i work ..

 

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