That was not the first time I've heard that particular source of motivation described. Software Developers, DevOps Engineers, Data Security professionals have given me the same testimony. It comes from start-up companies, with free flowing healthy beverages, pantries stocked with every treat in fruit, cookies or candy. Sites with ping-pong and extremely casual attire -- everyday. It comes from Fortune 500 companies as well. While salary and benefits are the reason individuals come to work. Over and over, I hear the same refrain -- my manager, my team lead or my Director comes by my desk or calls on the phone with a sentence or two of praise. And they do it often. Praise can be the magic elixir of staff retention.
The best software managers, product managers or directors follow the very simple formula. Their message is: "what tools do you need to perform the task? What resources can I get for you? Here is the project task list or specifications. Let me know what obstacles we need to overcome. Tell me where I can help. And ...tell me when its done". They act like a quarterback handing off to a running-back. That kind of management who can also foster team spirit, absolutely moves mountains. Their teams will go through fire for them. [When I was a software developer, I worked for two such managers. I can attest. I was always willing to walk barefoot on coals for them. And of course, did my very best.]
Conversely I hear from candidates who are performing very well. They achieve their objectives. They are well-paid. But they choose to leave what an outsider would deem, some very good companies. Why would they do that? Drum roll please.They tell me that: "they've never received any acknowledgement for wonderful work. Not a bit of simple praise". They are certainly crushed by that lack of acknowledgement.
So they vote with their feet.
Current managers and you who will inevitably rise through the corporate ranks -- please remember Praise. Praise is like rain in the desert. It truly is a magic elixir.