Ben—not his real name—works at a CAD software company. Ben is an engineer with an amazing grasp of higher mathematics. Apart from his normal project work, Ben helps people who have a problem they cannot solve unaided. (These are significant problems—Ben’s coworkers are also very bright people.) Quite often, the problem is not within Ben’s charter—sometimes not even within his division of the company—but he spends some time with his coworkers and they usually come up with a good solution.
The point of this story is that Ben takes great pleasure in his work. This is a man who does difficult things and succeeds. He loves his work, is challenged by it, thinks it is cool, and is definitely not there for the money. A pay raise or a bonus would obviously be welcome, but it would do nothing to motivate Ben. And while Ben feels more for his work than he does for his organization, he will not move to another for the sake of a pay raise alone.
We meet many Bens; we work with them from time to time in our consulting assignments. They work at many levels of their organizations, doing very different things. They are not always the most skilled people on the team, nor the highest paid. But you know when you meet Ben by the satisfied (but never smug) look on his face and the calm air of someone enjoying that day’s work.
Although Ben is easy to manage (and it’s a pleasure to do so), he is even easier to mismanage. One odious manager did not hire a replacement when one of his own workers left. Knowing how much Ben enjoyed his work, the manager thought he could shift more of it to him. The manager progressively loaded the work onto Ben, but as soon as the workload reached an intolerable level, Ben stopped enjoying the work and walked out. And because this was Ben, it was the best worker who was leaving.
The manager lost far more than Ben did. Bens always find work quickly, but it is difficult for a manager to find a Ben.
Bens don’t need close supervision. The role of Ben’s manager is to steer him gently toward the kinds of work that he finds interesting, thus assuring that those tasks will be accomplished with the fervor of a highly competent worker doing what he loves.
Business Analysis Conference Europe. Details and registration a Details and registration at Business Analysis Conference Europe 2015.
Take a look at Tom DeMarco's new article in the January, 2015 issue of CrossTalk. It's called Risk Management for Dummies.
Als auf der Welt das Licht Ausging, the German edition of Tom DeMarco's science fiction epic, Andronescu's Paradox, has now been published by Hanser Verlag in Munich. Translation by Andreas Brandhorst.
Read Tom DeMarco's article from the July/August edition of IEEE Software: Sigil, BlueGriffon, and the Evolving Software Market.
Announcing the publication of the third edition of Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister's iconic text, Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. The book is available now from Amazon or directly from Addison Wesley. See press release on Business Wire.
"This war isn't going to blow anything up, only turn everything off."
Read Tom DeMarco's essay from the July/August issue of Software Magazine. It's entitled, Bells, Whistles, Power, and the Requirements Process.