Tag Archives: Motivation

Scrapping New Years Resolutions for Goals

It’s that time of year where we have just had the new year celebrations and everyone starts making new years resolution. Not me though, I am not too keen on the idea of resolutions. They are a nice idea, but not very specific and you always end up breaking them. What I prefer are more solid goals.

Scrapping New Years Resolutions for Goals

Scrapping New Years Resolutions for Goals

For example, here are some typical resolutions..

  • Loose weight
  • Give up drinking
  • Learning a new programming language
  • Spend more time with the family

On the face of it, they are all valid ideals that would benefit anyone, but they are not that specific. A goal on the other hand is much more specific and takes a form more like what you might be used to at work, which is SMART goals. This means Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

Specific : Target a specific area for improvement or development.

Measurable : How will you measure progress?

Achievable : Is it an achievable goal or is it asking too much.

Relevant : Is the goal relevant to the person it is being assigned too.

Time bound  : When do you expect this goal to be achieved.

You don’t necessarily need to list the goal out in this format, but these points reflect what you should be thinking about when setting the goal.

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Finding Your Lightbulb Moment

I feel lucky that I have had a very diverse career where I have worked in many industries from Computer games at companies like Argonaut Software, Core Design, Electronic arts through to financial services companies like Egg Bank, and Dollar Financial and then in healthcare at Boots / Walgreens. Now I am working for a young and very exciting tech start up called Buying Butler.

Last week I was looking back to when I was a kid and tried to remember what that lightbulb moment was that set my career on its own trajectory. What started it all off? When I was a kid, around 14 years old I wanted to make computer games and Me and a good friend, Chris, would spend most of our spare time working on these games, but this was just a hobby. For me the catalyst that started my career moving when either me or my Dad, I can’t remember specifically who it was, found a small advert in a computer magazine from small start-up publisher looking for people who had developed computer games.

dark mission

One of my first computer games, Dark Mission

This was in the Commodore Amiga days. We got in touch with them and showed the game me and Chris was working on called Dark Mission. It was an isometric shoot-em-up / adventure game very heavily influenced by the film Aliens.  This small publisher called GKS Design wanted to release our game. I don’t think I have ever been so excited. This was around the time of us doing our GCSE exams at school, so we would split our time studying and developing this game.

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Retaining Software Developers in Your Company

As a company owner or hiring manager, attracting software developers into your organisation is one challenge. You have to hook them in with a job specification and then sell your company to them in an interview as-well as gauge their technical abilities.

But once a developer starts at your company, you then have to retain them. The jobs market is quite vibrant at the moment and developers have a plentiful choice of companies to go to as a permanent or contractor developers.

Retaining Software Developers in Your Company

Retaining Software Developers in Your Company

On-boarding and training up a new developer is quite a large commitment to a company in terms of time and costs, so how do you keep a developer engaged and wanting to stay so they can be productive and give a return on your investment.

In this short article I want to share some of my thoughts and view on this, but what I would really like to happen is for you to comment on this article and give your opinion either as a developer or as a companies hiring manager.

Has your company done something else to retain staff, if so what and how well did it work? Did they try something and it didn’t work?

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How to Motivate and Innovate Part 4 : Leadership Styles

In the previous articles in this series I covered Motivation, Finding meaning in your work, and how to encourage innovation in your team. In this final part of the series I want to discuss some different leadership styles you can adopt with your team.

There are many different types of leadership style you can adopt and rarely does one size fit all. Sometimes over the lifetime of a team you will need to adapt your style to fit a certain scenario, or use a specific style with different people on the team, especially if they are persistent under-performers.

You need to adapt your leadership style to different scenarios.

You need to adapt your leadership style to different scenarios.

Bureaucratic Leadership

Bureaucratic leaders are people that follow rules to the letter, and they ensure their team follow rules and process to the letter of the law. If you are working in an environment where safety both to people and systems is essential then this type of leadership style is needed.  If you have a team that does a lot of repetitive and manual work, then this style is also very well suited. If you want your people to be creative and innovative, then this isn’t the best style. You can use a blend though where you slip into bureaucratic leadership if you have a strict deployment or change management process to follow.

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How to Motivate and Innovate Part 2

In the first part of this article on motivation and innovation for software development leaders, I talked about what motivation is, how your working environment can affect your motivation, and how to get into the zone whilst working.  In this 2nd  part of the article I want to discuss some of Edmond Laus’ Strategies for finding meaning in your work from his blog post, “What research on happiness and motivation can tell us about finding meaning in our work.”, and how Me and My team have applied some of these strategies.

Strategies for Finding Meaning In Your Work

In Edmond’s his article he proposes 5 strategies for finding meaning in your work. I want to list them here with my own thoughts, but please check out his article to get his own thoughts on them.

Validate new ideas early and often with simple proofs of concept

This strategy really speaks for itself. Before investing a large amount of effort into something that may not work out, you should try out a proof of concept first. Generally a proof of concept will be a throw away piece of code just to prove whether a theory will work or not. When my team write proof of concepts, they don’t even bother writing unit tests for them, as the code is never destined to be production code. You can even take this POC idea further by following some of the Lean Startup ideas and produce a larger working mock-up of a system, or a minimum viable product as described in the book.

The Lean Startup - Eric Ries

The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

We tried this in my team. We had a project that our debt recovery department wanted to initiate, which is a self-service portal on the web to allow customers who are already in debt to make a payment online, and therefore avoiding a difficult conversation with our debt collectors over the phone. The idea made a lot of sense, but before investing a large amount of money in building the portal, we did a lean start-up style set of experiments to test the theory against a minimum viable product.

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How to Motivate and Innovate Part 1

In this series of articles I want to discuss some topics for software development leaders around motivation, innovation, and the different leadership styles you can use to support your team.  When you are leading a team of software developers, or indeed any knowledge workers, you need to keep them motivated to continue getting the best out of them. There are many ways to do this, and they don’t always involve paying people more money. In the rest of these articles I am going to discuss some thoughts on motivating developers.

Motivating Developers

When I started planning this series, I was mainly going to cover how to get the developers in your team to innovate in a safe and controlled way. Then I came across an article called “What research on happiness and motivation can tell us about finding meaning in our work.” By Edmond Lau.

Motivation - Getting in the Zone

Motivation – Getting in the Zone

It is a really good article and I want to pick up on a few points and discuss them further. There are many different ways to get someone motivated, but by far the biggest for a knowledge worker is to give them meaningful and challenging work.

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