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A challenge is motivating

In the knowledge industry, easy is boring. People with high skills need to exercise the skills and stretch themselves. Without a challenge to stretch, people start losing interest and focus their energies on something else where they can find a challenge, rather than the primary job.

A challenge needs to be distinct from the usual work. Even when the usual work is hard enough, a challenge of a different kind is needed to allow for orthogonal thinking. The mind stops thinking during routine work. Just like driving is a challenge to start with, but ceases to be one after some time, unless you drive in a new terrain. The excitement to drive disappears after a few months of driving and then driving becomes a chore.

A sense of accomplishment comes only when a challenge is completed against a certain level of difficulty.

Managers need to keep the employees engaged in challenges of a different kind, from time-to-time. It's ok to create a challenge even when there's no immediate requirement for it from a work delivery perspective. It does generate extra work, and it may not be immediately valuable to the company, but it's valuable to the employee and hence will yield benefits for the company. It is best when these challenges can be directed to the future of the product and the team.

Challenges need not be just technical and can be process-oriented or training or planning.

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