How to motivate People to finish ahead of Schedule

How to motivate People to finish ahead of Schedule

One of the most important tasks on a project is in motivating people to finish ahead of schedule – yet so few project do it. Indeed you will be punished for it.

My first ever job in computing was for Barclays Bank. We worked at Juxon House just by St Paul’s Cathedral but the Computer Centre was in Willesden. The computer was there so that’s where we went to test. None of the bosses were over there so it was a bit more relaxed.

While busy testing another program I was given a program with an estimate of 15 days. I decided to really knock myself out and worked on it on the train going home and coming in and at home as well as in work. I got it finished in 3 days. I was delighted with myself. However, I was a bit knackered to after that.

Extra Days

So, what I decided I would do would be to stay for a couple of extra days at Willesden and just chill out. I would go back to Juxon House on the Monday with a program scheduled for 15 days that to their minds I did in 5 days.

Everyone would be pleased and it would be very positive for my career. So, for a couple of days I did nothing but read the papers and get sausage sandwiches from the canteen.

Reported

I felt I deserved that. However, when I got back to Juxon House the reaction wasn’t what I expected. Someone had reported to the big boss tow levels above me that I had been spending my time at Willesden reading papers and eating sausage sandwiches.

I argued that I had finished a 15 day program in 3 days and spent 2 days recovering. I was told that of I have finished a program in 3 days I should have asked for more work.

That’s when I realised that there were no kudos in finishing work early and I was never stupid enough to do so again. The only reward you would get was more work and probably tighter schedules.

This is one of the main reasons why developers only ever finish work on time or over time and one of the main reasons why project are late. They don’t motivate developers to finish their work early so it is always on time when they can and late when they can’t.

Marking System

However, I had a solution to this. When I said that developers got a mark out of 10 for timeliness, they didn’t get 10 for finishing on time. They got 7. If they wanted to get 8 or 9 or 10 they had to finish ahead of schedule. There was one developer called Adam Sandling that he had who consistently finished all his work ahead of schedule.

This was a huge bonus for the project as this helped to equalise out one or two other delays that we had on the project. It was crucial.

Improving

Another motivation for Adam was in improving as a developer. As we said earlier on we measured software by Function Points. We fed back to the developers how productive they were as measured in Function Points delivered per month. It’s a bit like the cricket or baseball betting averages.

People want  to improve. They want to be a 30 Function Points a month developer rather than a 20 Function Points a month developer. It is a measure of how good they are. Just like baseball or cricket players they want to getter themselves. It motivates them to become better. Now, there is motivation for them to finish work ahead of schedule.