Most developers have, at one point in their career, worked in a group; it’s inevitable if you’re working on a large project. If you’ve worked in a large group you most likely have met one developer that has been less motivated than the others and this post is for you.

Motivating the unmotivated can be a difficult task for a manager. You have to know how to motivate them and not make them feel unwanted. If you try too hard, the programmer will feel like you’re trying to push them away, but if you don’t try hard enough the developer isn’t doing everything they could be.

Here are a few tips on motivating developers.

Know What They’re Capable Of

As a good manager, you should always know what your team is capable. Knowing an individuals strengths and weaknesses will make life easier for you and for them because you’ll have an idea of what you can assign them. Knowing what the unmotivated developer is capable of will allow you to plan for what you can give them and how you’ll be able to motivate them. If you don’t know what they can do, you’ll be shooting blanks when you try to help them.

Give Them Smaller Tasks

Giving them smaller tasks will help boost their esteem and hopefully get them excited to complete larger, more involved tasks. When I was working in a group earlier this year we had a couple of programmers that weren’t motivated to code at all. It was like pulling teeth to get them to participate in anything (meetings, writing code, etc…). One thing that I found worked the best was giving them small tasks to accomplish like writing tests for a specific method or running regression tests (at the beginning of the project).

When you give them small tasks, it doesn’t take a lot of effort for them to complete them. Once they’ve completed the tasks they feel good about themselves and are often more ready to take on larger tasks than before.

Reward Them For Their Successes

Rewarding your developers is always a good thing whether it be with yearly raises, throwing a party from time to time or giving everyone dual monitors . While most developers don’t need daily, or even hourly rewards, unmotivated ones might. If you find you have a developer who just can’t get motivated to code, try rewarding them when they’ve completed their first small task. This will hopefully get them more motivated to do other things.

These rewards don’t have to be extravagant, they don’t even need to cost money. Simple verbal rewards will be more than enough to motivate people.

Hopefully these tips will help you motivate your developers.