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Performance Management Part III - Intrinsic Motivation


In today's fast-paced business environment, organizations constantly look for ways to improve their engineering teams' performance. However, it's not uncommon for engineers to underperform, which can be frustrating and challenging for managers. Understanding the reasons behind underperformance is crucial to addressing the problem effectively. This article will explore why engineers may be underperforming and how intrinsic motivation can be used to improve the situation. In addition, we will discuss how intrinsic motivation is a powerful tool that can help to increase engagement, productivity, and creativity within the engineering team. By understanding the underlying causes of underperformance and utilizing intrinsic motivation, managers can take steps to improve their engineering teams' performance and drive their organizations' success.

Often leadership (and even within interviews) executives will revolve their questions around "what do you do to improve the performance of individuals and teams?". The answer to these types of questions thuroughly three main aspects need to be taken into consideration:

How do you measure Individual and Team performance? How do you, as a manager, know that the individual or team is underperforming, and more importantly, how would the individual or group know they're underperforming? How do you influence and modify behavior in a way that aligns with the company's priorities?

Performance management and relationships go hand in hand; trust and communication are the foundation of it. A strong relationship between managers and employees creates an environment of trust and open communication. With trust and communication established, managers can delve deeper into the three key elements of intrinsic motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These elements are essential in motivating employees and achieving the company's priorities.

Intrinsic motivation is a crucial factor in the success of engineering management, as it relates to the drive and engagement of engineers in their work. Intrinsically motivated Engineers tend to be more productive, creative, and engaged in their work, which can lead to increased innovation, efficiency, and overall performance within an organization.

One way to increase intrinsic motivation in engineering management is by giving engineers autonomy and allowing them to have a say in the direction of their work. This can include giving them the freedom to choose their projects, tools, and technologies and to work on problems that they are passionate about. In addition, engineers who feel a sense of ownership and control over their work are more likely to be intrinsically motivated.

Another way to increase intrinsic motivation is by providing opportunities for learning and growth. Engineers who are given a chance to learn and develop new skills continuously are more likely to be motivated by the challenge of the work itself. This can include opportunities for training, professional development, and mentoring.

It's also essential for engineering managers to foster a positive and supportive work environment where engineers feel valued and respected. For example, regular feedback, recognition, and collaboration opportunities can increase intrinsic motivation. Additionally, providing clear communication, transparency, and a sense of purpose within the organization can help to create a positive work environment that promotes intrinsic motivation.

In summary, intrinsic motivation is a key factor in the success of engineering management, as it relates to the drive and engagement of engineers in their work. By fostering intrinsic motivation, organizations can benefit from increased productivity, creativity, and attention from their engineers.