Saturday, December 03, 2005

Working hard and Reward

I'd like to share an interesting and important point that is brought up in a conversation with my manager.

Today we talked about my recent progress. I told him how much I enjoyed my last project sincerely. But I have also expressed my concern about the next few months scheduled for the team to concentrate on defect fixings. I said I enjoy working on new projects because they are more fun and make me grow faster. I like working hard and take on extra responsibilities. But I can't really work hard in defect fixing because there are only a small number of interesting defects and a large number of boring ones. I would end up with all the crap defects if I work hard and clear up all the interesting ones faster than they come in. He is quite shocked by this and agreed this is an obvious omission in his planning. He used the analogy that if you work hard on peeling potatoes and only get rewarded with more potatoes, you would be pissed eventually. But if you work hard at eating cakes and get rewarded with more cakes, you will work even harder. I'm sure he's been thinking about this a lot after the talk.

This problem exist only in a small number of domains where the workers actually do their job because they enjoy it. Of course not all the programmers enjoy writing code. But the ones do definitely have a big plus over the ones who don't. A culture of rewarding good programmers with good works can be much more effective and healthy than monetary reward.


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