Motivating Geeks

Working through Greenville College with Marketing and Business Management majors has not given me much opportunity to experience working with geeks, let alone managing them. Naturally, I had no idea that geeks were not interested in formal recognition for their work or receiving cash bonuses. This chapter opened my eyes to how to truly get work done with geeks, whether I’m managing them or not.

Above is an example of an awful motivation for any worker, let alone a geek. I think that just as it is any manager’s job to motivate their workers, it is the workers’ job to get projects done and not necessarily need to be babied constantly. Working well together is all about finding the correct balance of manager motivation, internal motivation, and also just getting the job done that needs to be done.

Just as this student wants positive reinforcement as motivation through pie, geeks find motivation from right answers, challenging puzzles, meaningful questions, and competition. Working together in a cohesive team really comes down to figuring out what makes the others on the team feel good and want to do their best work. A healthy work relationship cannot be established if one side is always giving without receiving anything in return, like in the above comic where the student wants to gain everything but the restaurant would actually lose without any sort of gain through the relationship.

In looking online at articles about how to motivate and retain the best people in the workplace, I stumbled across this article from I believe that a lot of the key points go hand-in-hand with what the authors of The Geek Leader’s Handbook suggest for motivating geeks. These are the top 10 tips to motivate and retain the best workers and how to implement them, according to this Forbes author.

1. Challenge them weekly РEvery great employee wants to be given a challenge to work on. Raised expectations lead to higher performance.

2. Reward for attitude, not just skills – Attitude determines everything, if attitudes are great the work will be great and vice versa.

3. Give an opportunity to build career, not just make money – Show employees that their job is more than just a place to clock in and make some cash to live off of, it is something they can build off of and work up from.

4. Be one of the leading places to work – This gives employees something to brag about and feel good about. It gives them ownership and makes them feel proud to be a part of such an awesome organization. “Everyone strives to stay on a winning team.”

5. Pay well – “If you pay the best, you can expect and achieve the best.” The Forbes article stresses that employee payroll is not a place where cutbacks can be made to save a buck if the company wishes to retain its excellent workers.

6. Give the ability to make their own decisions – Giving employees power and allowing them to make their own decisions and then be responsible for the outcome is the best way to produce great work while retaining happy employees. No one likes to be micromanaged and when employees are allowed ownership over their projects, they will likely work harder and longer to get their work done.

7. Be the boss that communicates effectively – This has to do with knowing when to boss someone and when to be their pep squad. Being as transparent as possible with your coworkers will allow them to feel more empowered to make their own decisions.

8. Clearly state the company’s beliefs and values – This will allow for everyone to be in sync with the vision of the company they work for.

9. Recognize that employees have personal goals too – Good managers will ask what their employees’ personal goals are for the future and may even try to help them get there.

10. Fire bad employees – Getting rid of employees that are not pulling their weight, regardless of experience or pay grade, will boost morale of the team immediately.

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