Why Reward programs suck! Part II

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This is the second part of an ongoing series “Why Rewards aren’t Rewarding“. Click on it to read the part I. Here are some reasons why rewards programs may not always work.

When programs focus on micro instead of macro: Having worked in telecom industry I know the real work pressure that sales employees go through in order to meet their target. I remember an employee getting caught while activating mobile connections using names of fake customers who didn’t exist or had already died. I wondered how on earth could he possibly arrange the ID card of a person who passed away. So the question is, where is the integrity? He was motivated to hit the numbers without knowing the impact of his actions! And when the reward becomes huge it tempts employees to bend the rules and tweak the process to their own advantage. When you talk only about the numbers or sales figures what if it is affecting quality, trust and customer satisfaction. You need to figure that out!

Programs can lead to hiding mistakes: I know of an organization that started a new initiative in order to reduce absenteeism. Reward the entire team who had minimum number of absence or full attendance. Now guess what the manager was up to! He would allow his team members to record the attendance on behalf of his coworker who was on leave. This same situation can happen in manufacturing sector when they intend to reward the team that manages to keep a good safety record. The two situations mentioned are examples that can lead to integrity issues and if not reported they can harm the work culture and even company’s existence.

When programs focus on individuals: I know how it feels like to be a sales person or a recruiter. Your commission or incentives is usually your main source of income. To close a great deal or to recruit for an executive position you want the clients to come to you first rather than to your team members. Because you want to earn your rewards. This kind of competitive situation is often a hurdle for team work. For example , when two recruiters are working to recruit for the same position, they dont want each others candidate to be selected. When they compete with each other for their own benefit, can they fulfill the organization’s goal of selecting the best candidate that is a good fit to the company’s culture?

Reward programs kill creativity: Trying to drive performance through monetary rewards make your employees less creative. When people know that a reward program exists, chances are they will ultimately target the reward rather than using their skills and capabilities to do something different and probably in a more creative way to achieve the same goal. They may not take risks and mostly take a familiar path to do their tasks, which does not nurture any creativity.

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