Yegor Bugayenko: what motivates me as a programmer

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Bugayenko has a very good list of things that motivate him. I find myself in agreement, with most of these things applying to me as well.

Here is two that I like very much:

Career path. I have no problem starting as a junior developer, but I have to know exactly what my future is and when it will happen. I want to become a CTO, no matter what. And it’s not about the title. It’s about the amount of technical authority and responsibility I will have. I want it all. If I don’t see a clear path to achieve that, I will be very demotivated and will treat my job as temporary. I will always be looking for a better place, where it’s easier to become a CTO. So it’s your job to make that career growth obvious for me. If it will never be possible for me to become the CTO, make that obvious too. The truth is better anyway.

A strong boss. This is probably the most important requirement I would have. I can’t work under a weak manager, it will seriously demotivate me from the first day. I will probably write another blog post about what a “strong manager” is, but in a nutshell it’s someone who is ready to fight for his or her own ideas, rights, thoughts, decisions, etc. A weak manager is one who is swimming with the current. Working under such a manager is a huge frustration and a waste of time. I will be demotivated and no amount of money will keep me interested.

This I would modify a bit:

Payments per results. I haven’t seen this anywhere, except with my own projects, but I believe it’s how good teams should be structured: everybody must be paid for results, not per hour/week/month/year. If you want me to be truly motivated you have to invent a payment structure where my paychecks will correspond to my results. I do realize that this may require you to change the entire management system, so I don’t absolutely insist. But you have to remember that as long as you pay me only for my time I will try to do my best to steal from you use it for my own benefit.

I believe there has to be some minimal per-hour payment, but I think the team should vote bonuses to those who are obviously doing the most work and contributing the most. I personally wouldn’t mind if the majority of money came from the voted bonus, but I say that as someone who is willing to work 70 hours a week, so I assume I would be winning most of that extra money. I’m not sure how a mother with 3 children would feel about this, especially if she is highly skilled and contributing something very important to the company, she would (quite reasonably) not want to be put in a position where she is not getting bonus money simply because some of her co-workers are working very long hours. So a careful balance would need to be struck.

Finally, there is this one, which sounds straight out of my book, How To Destroy A Tech Startup In Three Easy Steps:

Business transparency. I hate working for big ideas, if they are not mine. Mostly because I know that almost all of them fail. Working for a failure and being told that our future is bright doesn’t really motivate me, at all. That’s why I would expect you to tell me honestly why a meeting with investors took three hours instead of one and why the door was so tightly closed. Also, I would want to know why our CTO quit a few weeks ago and now works for our competitors. I’d like to know our honest situation in the market and why the web traffic stats are going down. In other words, I’m either a slave kept in the dark, or I know the truth and I’m motivated (no matter how ugly the truth is).

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