Are You Rewarding A While Requiring B?

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Reward SystemsReward systems

I decided on my doctoral thesis topic after reading Steven Kerr’s 1975 article, The Folly of Rewarding A When Hoping for B, in the Academy of Management Journal (volume 18, pps.769-782). In the decades since this published, one might assume that organizations revised their reward systems to match their current strategy. Unfortunately, many have not.

In my consulting work, I still see organizations holding on to outdated metrics and systems. Many still promote individual stars despite needing teamwork. These organizations focus on short-term measures overlooking long-term impact. Despite a desire for openness and transparency, in some organizations providing honest feedback results in your being labeled a “non-team player.” Just as offering innovative ideas in response to requests can either advance or hinder a career. So it should come as no surprise that employees monitor and value actions more than pronouncements.

Check how well your organization’s recognition practices encourage desired outcome to meet current goals by asking the following:

  • Are promotions given to those who have clearly contributed to current strategies? Did a promotion announcement accurately depict the person’s accomplishments?
  • Is there an effective balance between individual and team measures?
  • Have strategic goals been translated from vague terminology into specific outcomes? Are performance metrics tied to today’s desired outcomes?
  • When a mistake occurs is the first question: who is responsible or what can we learn? What happens to those who take a risk but miss the target?
  • Do problems stay hidden until they become a public nightmare?
  • Is communication filtered or massaged before it travels up the chain of command? Are problems and challenges hidden?
  • How quickly is teamwork, outstanding service or initiative recognized?
  • Is reward system re-alignment a key part of the strategic planning process?

The good news is that some companies recognize disconnects within their recognition systems. Proctor and Gamble revised their reward systems to target what they wanted: product line sales growth.

First published: http://bizcatalyst360.com/are-you-rewarding-a-while-requiring-b/#sthash.0IvpmiXI.dpuf

 

Motivational Power: Who Wants to be a Donkey?!

By Mary Lippitt | April 12, 2011Motivation Leadership

It’s time to update the carrot and stick approach. A cartoon of a donkey hitched to a wagon with a stick in front of it with a carrot enticing the donkey highlights the problem of trying to influence action without thinking about ramifications.

For centuries, dangling the carrot in front of the hardworking donkey or threatening the animal with the stick were two types of motivational power leaders used. Just as technology has advanced, we must expand this narrow view. Encouraging our leaders to rise to the challenges of new workforce expectations, requirements, and levels of competition requires more than a carrot or a stick.

Employee motivation, be it positive or negative, is a direct result of the appropriate use of power by a leader. Power is a bit of a dirty word that inspires a love-hate relationship. On one hand, it is connected to strength, forward motion and inspiration. On the other, it is often connected to despots, tyrants and evil bosses. The love, or carrot, of power reflects the ability to motivate others to achieve goals. The negative, or stick, stems from the forceful use of power over others that yields distorted behavior, corrupted decision making, or reduced initiative. Bearing both of these associations in mind, the use of power accomplishes goals and stirs engagement among employees.

While it is convenient to only have to evaluate two options: punish or reward, motivating both people and animals is much more complicated. The assumption is that we are just a “dumb” means to accomplish a goal diminishes us to the single task of cart hauling.

The fast reaction to the carrot or stick overshadows more sustainable options. Everyone may welcome a bonus but after a month, what is the power of the monetary incentive? Feeling like your contributions led to successful goal achievement, a sense that people trust and respect your experience, or the recognition that your insights made a critical difference in gaining support offers long lasting benefits.

How have you reacted when a “stick” strategy is evident? What motivates you? What type of motivational power have you used to bring out the best in others?