What motivates most employees is achievement, approval, or a sense of belonging to an exclusive group that's doing something important. The money is nice, but not their primary driver.
Not that they ignore what they're paid. Quite the opposite -- they give it their closest attention. That's because a company's compensation system is the loudest, clearest, and most emphatic communications channel it has for explaining to employees what it considers important.
The classic example, used in every introductory seminar on Total Quality Management ever given, is the company that decided it wanted quality. It preached quality, taught quality techniques, and measured quality improvement. The result, month after month, was a total lack of improvement in its defect rate. Why? The factory manager's bonus depended on how many widgets rolled off the production line every month.
Pay for quantity, beg for quality, and quantity will win every time. What you pay for explains your priorities far better than your company newsletter.
Bring it home to IT. Many CIOs want to establish a more process-oriented perspective in their organizations, to get (all together now!) Repeatable, Predictable Results. Whether it's an ITIL initiative or an attempt to rise to higher levels in the Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model, they want the IT staff to "plan the work and work the plan" instead of coming to work every day as if the world had just been created fresh and new.
Good for them. These are important goals for many IT organizations. So if you're one of them, go ahead and want process, teach process techniques, and measure process results. And then ...
A project team finds itself under time pressure. The project manager rallies the troops, who work a succession of twenty-four hour days and seven-day weeks. Gasping for breath, exhausted but exhilarated, they meet their deadline with minutes to spare.
Impressed, you give them all bonuses for going the extra mile.
Outstanding. Except ...
Another project team doesn't find itself under time pressure. Every week, every team member meets every milestone. The project manager spots risks and issues early and deals with them. If one team member gets into trouble, the rest help out immediately so the schedule is never in jeopardy. The deadline rolls around, they put the software into production, and go home to spend the weekend with their families.
Boring. Why would you give them a bonus? They didn't go an extra block, let alone an extra mile. All they did was the work in front of them.
Making process happen in IT is hard. If you pay extra for heroics while ignoring those who do their work by the numbers, you're preaching process in a whisper while shouting, in the loudest voice you can, that you really don't care for it all that much.
As with any good process, the results are predictable, and have been repeated so many times you'd think we'd have caught on by now.
You get what you pay for. If you want process, start paying for it, instead of its opposite.