Black Dan Developers – Motivating People
One way of motivating people is to give them a sense of achievement. Instead of threatening them with deadlines let them achieve.
My cousin is a fifth dan black belt at Karate. I thought that it was pretty good when he progressed through the various belts to become a black dan. I thought that this was it. He had arrived. I was even more surprised to find that he continued to progress through the dans and that he had become a bit of an expert. He had never been that confident before.
Now his self esteem is extremely high and he carries that into other areas of his life. He had left school at fifteen to go into the shipyards. After succeeding at karate he went back to university and got himself a university degree.
Compare that to software developers. There are trainee developers, developers, and senior developers. At senior developer you have arrived. And then you don’t go anywhere – no matter how much better you become at software development. To progress you have to do something else like business analysis or project leadership
I’m not suggesting that you should call people fifth dan senior developers (exposing yourself to ridicule), but perhaps you could have Expertise Level 5 senior developers. Achieving these levels could be related to their productivity levels, quality levels, and customer satisfaction levels etc.
If the measures are objective instead of based on management opinion, the developers know what they have to achieve instead of having them harass their managers at their reviews.
Striving for theses higher levels gives them objectives, keeps their interest, and motivates them towards continuous self-improvement. It also gives them status among their peers, status which they may not be able to transfer to another company.