Top 10 Ways to Motivate Geeks · The Retrospector

July 18, 2006 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

I came across a new blog today, courtesy of my Info Week Daily newsletter. The retrospector has a well written post about how to motivate geek employees. One would think that more managers would realize these key points by now.

Top 10 Ways to Motivate Geeks · The Retrospector

A lot of these apply to those of us that are in the “quasi” geek realm — we don’t do a lot of coding but are involved in the structure and internals of internet, intranet, portal sites.
A point I would add is to allow your geek to provide a solution that works! I’m encountering business users (upper management) that insist that they know the solution and that it must be done that way — even if there is another approach. These are people who refuse to discuss or view any ideas, current features, approaches outside of the their prescribed solution.
I completely agree with the point about allowing tools needed. I have encountered this problem in my current organization. Our network is, of neccessity tightly secured.  I fully appreciate the need to test and research new applications to be sure that they will not present virii, malware or other nasties. It is also undestandable that we must run new and updated applications in a test environment prior to deployment. However, the rules can become so binding that common sense is abandoned. I requested a *free* open source application to experiment with putting our taxonomy into XML. This was THREE months ago. They insisted upon runing it in a test environment, even though I would only run the application locally. There is only one place you can download it, you can communicate directly with the programmer and there is no budget issue. I had to fill out a canned form that insisted upon answers that are not applicable because this is a free application. There are, in some organizations, too many templated processes and not enough intelligent interaction.
I also encounter issues in retaining the applications I need. Our organization has a policy of removing users from licenses if they have not used an application for x time. This seems to be related to cost cutting measures more than security. While this makes sense on paper — it doesn’t work for me. I have to be able to open and manipulate any file I recieve for our digital library. Since I may only see 2 of those particular files a year, I inevitably appear on the IT list of “users that do not need x application”.  Thank goodness my administrator is supportive and will argue with IT on my behalf.
However, I disagree with the way the list generalizes what drive geeks. Too many of our own Information Services and Technology Services people have not kept up to date and are unfamiliar with some of the new approaches and technologies. I am including all facets of information services, such as: programmers, developers, network engineers and security engineers. I have not encountered many employees that actively stay aware of developments in related fields. For example, I’ve stayed on top of the development of AJAX — I’m not a programmer, but it will affect my selection decisions in the future. I stay on top of new security issues: I create crawlers and feel I need to understand network security. I am not an expert in any of these things, by any means! But, it does seem that not all geeks are curious. Perhaps not all techies are geeks? Perhaps past experiences with managers that discouraged creativity and experimentation stifled their curiousity?

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Entry filed under: Organizational Culture.

KM in change averse organizations Spam and Akismet

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