Tag Archives: motivation

Rands in Repose: Bored People Quit

This was a very solid top item on Hacker News today:

Much has been written about employee motivation and retention. It’s written by folks who actively use words like motivation and retention and generally don’t have a clue about the daily necessity of keeping your team professionally content because they’ve either never done the work or have forgotten how it’s done. These are the people who show up when your single best engineer casually and unexpectedly announces, “I’m quitting. I’m joining my good friend to found a start-up. This is my two weeks’ notice.”

You call on the motivation and retention police because you believe they can perform the legendary “diving save”. Whether it’s HR or a well-intentioned manager with a distinguished title, these people scurry impressively. Meetings that go long into the evening are instantly scheduled with the disenfranchised employee.

It’s an impressive show of force, and it sometimes works, but even if they stay, the damage has been done. They’ve quit, and when someone quits they are effectively saying, “I no longer believe in this company”. What’s worse is that what they were originally thinking was, “I’m bored”.

Boredom is easier to fix than an absence of belief.

For the engineering sector, this nails it, and matches well with a tweet I saw yesterday:

@johndbritton: Q: “Do you know any good developers that need jobs?” A: “No, that is an entirely unheard of scenario.”

This all especially struck a chord as I’ve been organizing my Google+ circles, and noting how large the population of used to work at my employer is.