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Yippee Ki-Yay, Motivator

So... how do you motivate your people? Or, how are you motivated by your supervisors and/or instructors?

I find that the following seem to help:

  • 1. Making them talk. Call it accountability, or call it peer pressure, but nothing motivates people like having to just get up and speak for two minutes at every week's group meeting, to say what you accomplished this week and what you're going to work on next week. I start the discussion part of every meeting (before or after the seminar) with a "go-round", religiously.

  • 2. Letting people know that you're there for them. It helps that I sleep less than most of my group members, so that when (say) masaga IMs me at 0500, I can often reply right away.

  • 3. Follow-through on "getting the ball rolling". If I ask person A to e-mail collaborator B (say, a recently-graduated Ph.D. student of some colleague C at Illinois, CMU, etc.), they will do so with reluctance. But if I then call B, or schedule a meeting among A, myself, and B (plus C if possible) when we are both going to be in town or meeting up with B at a conference, then A gets more interested. Sometimes this is due to the fact that people like attention and dislike feeling ignored, and sometimes it's due to the fear of looking bad in front of B and C.

  • 4. Making sure they come in and see me. This helps, both as a variant of #1 (holding them accountable) and to make sure people speak up and let me know what they are working on, or stuck on. Sometimes I can resolve impasses. This works more often for basic research and conceptual mental blocks, or for people needing a pointer to a tutorial, than for someone trying to correct errors in a program or to solve a very specific low-level problem, but even then, it helps to talk it over. For every type of problem, there's been at least one case where I've been able to lend some guidance.

  • 5. Rewarding them well. I pay undergrads a pittance (or "tippance" as yodge would say), but grad research assistants are decently paid, when they are actually employed on a grant. The main reward I'm able to offer, though, is the chance to get co-authorship (or, in the case of original work, first authorship) on papers.


Any other ideas?

A note on the title of this post: It comes from this, which many of you may recognize, and the use of motivator in television broadcasts as a minced oath, or euphemism, for the similar-sounding expletive in that clip.

--
Banazir

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
rsmit212
Nov. 25th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Not really any new idea, but I'd suggest a clarification of #1 and #4. #1, to be honest, I detest with one exception. If it is a weekly project specific meeting, fine. But if it is a group meeting, to be frank, it's not any of my equals' business what I'm working on/accomplishing. It is only relevant for a specific project.

#4 is for the remainder of work. It doesn't directly affect anyone else, but my superior should know if I'm bogging down on something I shouldn't or need help due to grander scope than intended.
murasaki_suki
Nov. 26th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Do not micromanage. Nothing kills drive and desire faster than micromanaging, except for massive personality conflicts.

If there are any passive-aggressive people in the organization, or sociopaths who are there to expand their personal power base at the expense of team goals, get rid of them. They are not worth the drain on other people's mental and spiritual reserves.
kaladhwen
Nov. 27th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)
Re: accountability, it helps me to get schoolwork done if I make a study buddy in a class and make an actual scheduled time on campus to meet up with them to work on something, even if it's our own individual assignments. I'm bad at time management and sticking to a schedule when I'm home, so that's easier for me to meet up with someone on campus. At work, it's pretty easy for me to be motivated to get stuff done, possibly cause I'm not distracted with fun things at home. At work I make to do lists and write everything down so I don't forget.

Re: #3, I think sometimes A might just be lazy. They may wonder why they have to email B when you can or something. This comes from my experience at my last workplace where... in a way sometimes it was my job to nag nag nag people because certain things would fall through the cracks and I had to be sure people stayed on top of something that was rushed. UGH.

And I think I have to agree with the other commenters about not micromanaging and making sure it's everyone's business if you report what you're doing at a group meeting. But, yeah. Even when I nagged I tried not to micromanage. Just reminded them that a certain package had priority etc.

Anyway... :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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