Everything I have learned about geeks recently has proven to me that geeks are different. Different in most all aspects. So, when it comes to motivating geeks, traditional methods may have little to no effect. Geeks need to be treated differently in order to get them to do the work they need to do. This blog will discuss ways to motivate geeks to get the job done. Managers pay attention!
To start, one of the most important ways to get a geek motivated is to throw a super compelling problem statement at them. Geeks see everything as a problem and solution situation. In all projects, the manager should intrigue the geek in to work by explaining that all projects have a problem and need to be solved. This should get their attention and motivate them to work on the projects and get them done. Personally, I have experienced this first hand in a group project in high school. I had a very smart kid in my group that did not like to do any work. I explained to him that we needed him to help us solve the problem. Which was of course the project at hand. This motivated him to work and do his part. That was a lucky experience though, I had not learned how to properly motivate geeks back then. The video below showcases Sheldon. Sheldon is competitively driven to answer every question for his team. He is motivated to solve every problem even though it is internally hurting his team. This could be prevented using interdependent roles. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.
Another way is to create interdependent roles in projects. In order to this, the manager must provide each person working on the project a specific role. The role needs to be clearly defined and everyone should know what goal they are working towards. This is good for geeks because they are usually introverts. They like working by themselves and not in the company of others. Interdependent roles let geeks know how they can “individually win” in a project. These roles often allow geeks to see how they match up with their group mates. Fun fact, geeks are more likely to help their peers way more than their boss. Finally, these interdependent roles help everyone, especially geeks, know how what they are doing contributes to the end goal. In my own experience in group work, I have learned that assigning everyone a role is less stressful, and it usually guarantees that all members will participate.
One last way to motivate geeks is to offer free food. However, you should should do this very seldom. For some odd reason, geeks will do just about anything for food. Bring in food when you want groups to come together. When food is around, people are generally happier. Geeks are able to connect with group mates easier when they are sharing an appreciation for the free food in front of them. I personally appreciate when food is brought to a class. It motivates me to work harder in that class. Probably due to the fact that I am in a better mood when I am given free food.
There are some things you should avoid when motivating geeks, however. When motivating geeks, stray away from traditional tactics. They most definitely will not work. Money does not motivate geeks like it does regular people. Do not even try! Also, do not undermine motivation. Geeks come into the workplace with their own motivation. It is important that you do not kill that natural motivation geeks carry with them.
Conclusively, it is easy to see that geeks need to be motivated differently. As stated earlier, the most important thing one can do as a manager is to compose a compelling problem statement for a project. A geeks desire to solve problems is your best friend as a manager, so intrigue that desire. Hopefully, following these tips will increase your motivational skills in the workplace and you will be able to get everyone working hard.