Has anyone ever heard that saying? One of my MBA professors said that it was the number one rule for managers. “You get what you reward.” Basically, the idea is that if you want a team to work together, then you need to reward good team behavior. It is all about recognizing what true motivation is, because the reward has to be perceived as a reward. A nice pat on the back isn’t a real reward for someone unless that pat on the back will motivate them.

Hacknot recently posted an article related to technical leadership and common mistakes related to leading in a technology environment. One of the mistakes he lists is “employing hokey motivational techniques.”

…managers value perception and status, so being presented with an award in front of everyone, or receiving a plaque to display on their wall where everyone can see it, may well be motivating to them. However programmers tend to be focused on the practical and functional, and value things that they can use to some advantage. Programmers regard the sorts of rewards that managers typically receive as superficial and trite.

How true that statement is. One of the things I’ve learned to think about in my MBA program is that good leaders recognize that not everyone is the same. In the same way that people from different cultural backgrounds are motivated by different things (i.e. an individualistic culture versus a collective culture), people in different professions are also motivated by different things. Honestly, different professions ARE different cultures.

It sounds like a fairly simple concept, but apparently it is a lot harder to understand than I realize. That, or more people need to start reading Hacknot.