There is a common stereotype that software engineers are primarily motivated by the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology.
Falling for this stereotype can lead to a sense of helplessness about motivating engineers because, “we can’t introduce cutting-edge technology here”. Or, even worse, the introduction of a new technology solely to satisfy this assumption.
In my experience, just like other people, engineers have a diverse range of motivations. These extend well beyond technology.
To understand what motivates the engineers that you work with you need to ask them. What are they most proud of? What energises them? What motivates them? What do they find most rewarding? What does a fulfilling day at work look like for them?
It is also valuable to ask about factors that demotivate and frustrate them, as reducing these can have a significant impact on their motivation.
What are key motivations for the engineers that you work with? Ask them and you will find out.
This is part of a series of articles about Engineering Leadership. I offer coaching and mentoring to engineering leaders if you are interested in further developing your leadership skills.
Motivate your team tapping into intrinsic drives through Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose
Sebastiano Armeli gives a brief summary of "Drive" by Daniel Pink
The Progress Principle - Using Small Wins to Enhance Motivation
Mind Tools provides a helpful summary of the book "The Progress Principle" which outlines how achieving and celebrating "small wins" helps people have rich, engaged, and productive work lives.
Happy people don’t leave jobs they love: Reflections from Rands on when people decide that they are leaving their jobs
Motivation in Software Engineering: A systematic literature review
A summary of what academics say about motivating software engineers