At a recent conference, I had the good fortune to interact with many talented developers who work in product and services organizations. These are folks who develop cutting-edge software and help their organizations deliver great value to their customers.
Although listening to them was exciting, what I learned about many of them caught my attention. Most of these developers had switched jobs at least every two years.
Reasons for job hopping
Everyone has a reason to change jobs; however, changing jobs frequently will hinder both the employer's and the employee's ability to deliver value. Most often, I hear better salary
as the primary reason. Enough has been said about attaching too much importance to money. It does not help one achieve excellence.
When I steered the conversation away from compensation, I uncovered other reasons for switching jobs:
- Growth opportunities
- Organization's culture
- Organization's vision
Teams can influence the first three reasons. Truly Agile organizations trust their team members to get the job done. So growth opportunities (by proving talent), the organization's culture (directly proportional to team culture) and the organization's vision (dependent on how successfully teams deliver and attract new projects) can be driven by individual team members. Well, they can at least try!
Unfortunately, the team cannot influence the peer group. We are assigned to teams that include the peers we work with. Most of the issues within an Agile team stem from this peer group.
In her excellent article "Unjust Desserts
," Mary Poppendieck writes about the factors that help build successful team performance over time. She says, "Treat monetary rewards like explosives. . . ."
The quote accurately captures the problem with building truly Agile teams. The greater the differences in compensation, the more team members compete against rather than collaborate with each other. This results in a demotivated team, which goes against one of the core Agile principles: Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
Given the demand in the IT industry for new products, one can move to a different organization for any of the above-mentioned reasons. However, it takes a lot of effort to integrate with the new team and organization. Delivering true value to the customers in a new setup is never easy, however exciting it may be. I know few people who have done this successfully, and I also know how much of their personal time went toward that success. Spending personal time to deliver success will lead to burnout, and the effort is unsustainable -- which underscores another one of the core Agile principles: Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Given that the IT industry is maturing in India, it is time that developers take an educated guess at the value of work and equate it to compensation. More money = quality of work.
Organizations, too, have an important role to play: I hope that compensation is rationed and occasional promotions are handed out to keep teams motivated.
Do you think changing jobs too frequently affects Agile teams negatively? How much, do you think, compensation affects the success of Agile teams?