Nobody is Happy

“Reggie, when you are barking all the orders, and telling people, if they will just perform to this standard or that standard, they will get an extra bump in their paycheck, where does that place accountability?”

Reggie looked at me for a minute, shook his head, “I’m not sure what you mean, where does that place accountability?”

“Reggie, the reason this is a difficult concept, is that most managers rarely talk about accountability. Back to the question. Where does a bonus system place accountability for performance?”

“I still don’t know what you mean?”

“The manager says, if you perform to this standard, you get an extra $100 in your paycheck this week. What happens to accountability for performance to the standard?”

Reggie was working through this in his head. “Well, the manager has done his job. He defined the performance standard and calculated the bonus, so it’s now on the team member?”

“Not quite,” I said. “The team member now has the choice to perform, or not perform and understands the consequences. If the team member underperforms, $100 of their promised pay will be withheld.

“So, the team member underperforms and does not receive the bonus. They’re okay with it, because, in the end, they didn’t have to work that hard after all. And the manager must be okay with it, because he doesn’t have to pay the $100.

“So the performance standard is not achieved. Who is accountable for the underperformance? Is everybody happy?”

2 thoughts on “Nobody is Happy

  1. Rich Green

    The accountability is placed on the Manger. He main focus should be to motivate his direct reports and to get as much out of them as humanly possible. Typically this is not accomplished by barking out orders. In most instances this type of management style will have a negative effect and will cause resentment among the troops. A real manager is a leader first and needs to step up and lead by example. He also needs to work to find out what motivates each and everyone of his employees. For some examples, some would prefer time off instead of $$, others may think the reward is not worth the extra effort and yet others would jump at the opportunity to add $$ into their pockets. Goals need to be obtainable, not subjective and contain some sort of reward for meeting them. Otherwise it’s just window dressing to try to show senior management. Great leaders will see right through this smokescreen and may eventually find someone else to motivate/manage these troops.

  2. John Kahi

    Performance ought to have some fulfiment for the employees in some ways, not just monetary rewards. Appreciation for a work well done, some mileage being covered towards a more higher goal, management research has shown, will be more motivating than mere extra dollars, in my opinion. When managers call out for optimum performance, and this should be the norm, from teams, rallying the organization’s vision and mission, then I believe, they are doing everybody within the organization, some measure of good. What do others think?


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