“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?”