Motivating R&D personnel is an interesting topic to me because I have enjoyed all of my management positions in the workforce, but what made me feel the most successful was helping my knowledge workers reach their goals. This got me thinking of the different ways I motivated my team; whether it was to hit their sales goals, strive for 5-star customer survey results, or get that title and position that they wanted to be in. What worked best for me was open communication (one-on-one meetings, weekly), listening to their needs, coming up with a plan that aligns their goals with company goals, and lastly going over the plan together. This helped ensure my people and I were on the same page, agreed on the course of action, and benefited everyone involved, including the company. After joining CICS, I realized just how much I do not know and will never know, but one basic principle I believe in fully is that a company with happy and motivated people has a better chance at thriving.
Onward to the interesting IEEE article that I came across while researching motivation in the R&D space. The article, “Future-Focused Motivation Management for R&D Personnel” written by K. Shirahada and K. Niwa analyzes the effects of various techniques utilized by management to motivate their R&D knowledge workers. Throughout this article, I learned about several methods of motivation. Non-monetary awards and delegating important responsibilities is categorized as transactional leadership. Transformational leadership engages personnel by setting defined organizational goals and sparking the interest of those who enjoy competition and attaining the set goals.
My personal favorite style of motivation, and one that is increasing in importance is leadership through coaching. The core difference between coaching and transformational and transactional motivation is that coaching is geared toward the individual and their needs, rather than company metrics. The authors of this article form a hypothesis around integrating both organizational and individual motivational methods, and then test this concept with data that they have collected. The figure below summarizes the authors’ idea.
I encourage you to follow the link below to read about their findings, and also think about what methods of motivation would work for you, and how you would go about finding out what motivates those that you are managing. Do you like the organizational style or individual style, or perhaps a combination as suggested by Shirahada and Niwa?
IEEE DOi: 10.1109/PICMET.2006.296677