Motivating Technical Employees

Consider the following rewards for your technical staff.

  • Interesting and challenging work. Everyone needs to do something interesting and exciting. High-tech employees need the bulk of their work responsibilities to be exciting, or else they are apt to get bored.
  • A chance to learn new skills. Most development occurs on the job. Whether through technical training or the chance to be part of a cross-functional work group, high-tech employees want opportunities to learn and grow.
  • A choice of next work assignment. Giving high-tech employees a choice in the next work assignment demonstrates that you not only trust and respect them, but you feel that they understand of the larger organizational picture.
  • A chance to pursue one's ideas. Whether it's a new product or a process improvement, letting an employee pursue an idea can be very motivating. Technical employees at 3M, for example, spend an average of 15% of their time pursuing ideas of their own.
  • Recognition for one's achievements. Public recognition of personal achievements is motivating to most employees. This can range from a presentation to management to an e-mail announcement to a nomination for a more formal technical award.
  • Flexibility. Most high-tech employees prefer to work flexible hours. This can mean staggered start times or an alternative schedule, such as the 9/80 plan used by TRW, in which employees work nine-hour days and receive every other Friday off.

Copyright 1999 Bob Nelson, used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Bob Nelson's Rewarding Employees newsletter.