Why Motivating Your Employees With Incentives Sucks

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Think of great NBA stars, world-class golfers, and renowned artists.

  1. They obsessively crave their work.
  2. They're constantly driven to perfect and utterly dominate their craft.
  3. They kick ass regardless of the incentive system.

Yet, businesses think they can get better work by doing this:

  • "Hey! If you can accomplish XYZ, we'll give you $$$. YAY!"

Then, they sit back, relax, and anticipate better work -- which never comes.

What Managers Don't Understand

  • Tiger Woods doesn't try harder because he sees a financial reward at the end.
  • Kobe Bryant doesn't score more points because he gets a season-end bonus.
  • Yo-Yo Ma doesn't record better compositions because his label pays him more.

The Rule: People produce X work, regardless of what rewards you give them.

That is, despite their incentive system:

  1. Great people will produce great work.
  2. Shoddy people will produce shoddy work.

Yet, managers tend to go for the latter attracting the wrong peeps, then try to set up a reward system to get better work.

Boo.

You + College

Remember back in college: Who got the best grades?

  1. a) those worried about their grades
  2. b) those focused on rocking the work

B.

Worrying about external rewards distracts you from the channel that will get you that reward.

For instance, if Johnny A constantly talks about:

  1. incentives
  2. rewards
  3. $$$

...all day, and everyday, you know:

  1. Incentives distract him from his work.
  2. Therefore, he'll produce shoddy work.

Provided you sufficiently compensate them, great people will produce great work regardless of the reward system.

  • A passionate web designer will produce an amazing website, provided you sufficiently pay her.
  • A money-motivated web designer will produce a horrible piece of S.U.C.K., even if you pay him a million bucks.

The 3-step Process to Attracting Great Talent

  1. "What compensation will make you happy?"
  2. Satisfy.
  3. Watch great work.

Seek passionate peeps.

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Posted on September 08

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