How can we make more money and stay happy?
June 29, 2007 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Interesting profit-sharing schemes or payment incentives for programmers? What can my boss give me to make me work more efficiently?

I'm a programmer at a small company that can't really afford to pay as much as, say, intel. So far we've been kept happy with perks like free meals, a nintendo wii, flexible hours and almost complete creative freedom. In fact, we're almost entirely self-managed.

So for the employees, the downside is that we could sell out, work in a cube farm and maybe retire 10 years earlier. For the employer, I think he feels like we could be working more efficiently - for instance, since I get paid the same amount either way, I'm less likely to do grunt stuff that makes the company more money and more likely to work on something creative and stimulating.

As a solution, we've been thinking about some kind of profit sharing that would incentivise us programmers to work more efficiently towards making the company more successful instead of stumbling vaguely in that direction, as well as giving us a reason to stay with the company long-term. The trouble is that most of us work on projects that are extremely vital but aren't directly related to the amount of money we make - or at least it's very hard to measure the financial impact they have - so it's hard to see who gets what percentage of profits, etc. Any thoughts? Thanks!
posted by Post-it Goat to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you need a decent project manager, not a carrot in front of your nose. Someone who's responsibility it is to hand out tasks based on their priority, not on what everyone feels like doing this morning.

However, if that's truly not an option, I'd list all projects by priority on a big board. Completing high-priority projects is what earns you an end-of-year bonus.
posted by Leon at 4:32 PM on June 29, 2007

Response by poster: Hey, thanks for the response. We have suggested a project manager plenty of times and we're still moving towards that, but for some reason it hasn't worked out yet. I think the root of the problem is that my boss has an ideal of the company as being sort of an organic, self-managed community, and so he hasn't been all that receptive to the idea (also in the past we've had some failed attempts at introducing management).
posted by Post-it Goat at 4:44 PM on June 29, 2007

Leon has it. Somebody needs to be in charge. Neither art nor software will ever ship unless there is a deadline. A good PM will do that. Failing that, somebody needs to be the adult in the group and see that things get completed and tested.

There is always more fun stuff to do than go through the pain of shipping but how do you expect the company to survive otherwise? Your fun little perks will be pretty meaningless if the company dies while you play wii.

Don't mean to harsh your mellow but it's time to act the professional and do the work you've been hired to do. Your employer should not have to pony up extra goodies to get you to deliver what they want.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:45 PM on June 29, 2007

"I think the root of the problem is that my boss has an ideal of the company as being sort of an organic, self-managed community..."

If that's the idea, maybe reading up on the difficulties of maintaining a completely organic garden will help.

Something sounds fishy here, like there are projects that could add to the company's bottom line if they were more organized, but nobody wants that organization so the bottom line stays where it is and nobody makes more money or anything. Like, there's no money for higher salaries or a project manager, but there is for profit-sharing? It doesn't add up.
posted by rhizome at 5:02 PM on June 29, 2007

Groups do not 'self-manage' -- somebody stands up on their hind feet and takes the lead. Leadership isn't for everybody but it sounds like nobody wants to be out front making the hard choices.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:10 PM on June 29, 2007

Best answer: There's a big difference between someone designated as the manager and a natural leader. A company can organize without formal structure but it still requires leadership and organization to set goals, recognize achievement, etc.

This profile of WL Gore is a good read.
posted by junesix at 5:18 PM on June 29, 2007

Excellent article, junesix.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:54 PM on June 29, 2007

Best answer: my boss has an ideal of the company as being sort of an organic, self-managed community

That rings bells. Someone I know works at a company run along lines laid down by some management guru.... yeah, here we go. Google Ricardo Semler
posted by Leon at 7:24 PM on June 29, 2007

« Older Is it wise to take Pantocip for Protonix?   |   Origin of "we are all [blank] now" Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.