The Unlearning Organization LO10050

Dave Buffenbarger (
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 20:23:08 -0400

Replying to LO10021 --

In LO10021, Ben Compton wrote...

> I'm not entirely sure how to solve the problem. I've seen a number of
> different approaches: One is to be very egalitarian, by giving rewards (in
> the form of more money, bonuses, etc.) in private; another is to make
> rewards much more public, holding one or two people up as role models.

> The problem with the first is that human beings like to be recognized in
> public. The problem with the second approach is that it implies those who
> aren't publicly rewarded may be failures. Both, in the end, demotivate
> more than they motivate. And they pit employee against employee instead of
> bringing the employees together in a common cause.

Ben, got a comment or two pertaining to these thoughts. I'll start with a
question. Is it necessary to use the same process or method for everyone?
I used to do that but changed after some years of input from people.

To place my thoughts for you. For ten years I've taught and coached team
building, TQM tools, problem solving, strategy development, etc. In many
of those workshops, the topic of pay came up. So, I used to ask them
questions about pay systems and then give them my answers. They also knew
I was going to do this since I told them they would answer first, me
second. Understand this was is public setting so individual answers may
have been swayed by others. That is, I am not claiming any scientific
validity to the answers.

First, roughly 20 per cent wanted fair pay, nothing more, nothing less.
They did not want to "beat out their friends" with higher pay raises. For
the most part, I perceived that paying people with the same level of
experience and the same amount of responsibility "approximately the same"
was acceptable or even preferred. The other 80 per cent seemed to sway
with the conversation so I could not come close to understanding their
part of the conversation.

Second, until recently, we got our individual raises at different times.
(Dow has now a standard date for everyone to get their raise, if they do
get one.) I asked them in which week of the year they got their raise.
Many could not come closer than the month of the year (determined by the
month they hired into the company). They could, though, say when the last
time was that they got personal recognition - a note, phone call, etc -
that was sincere from the sender.

Third, I experimented with about 10 groups by giving them lists of
objects/things/ values/etc that they could place in
motivators/demotivators columns and then had them prioritize each column.
Money was rarely put in a motivator column. Not enough money could
demotivate. But more and more money could not motivate. (who devloped
this model of motivators and demotivators? I'm memory dead tonight.). I
do not recall the percentages, but it was more than a majority who did not
find money motivating.

>From that experience, I made giving money less ceremonial. The
person/team got a raise or bonus in a low key way. Any personal
recognition was based on what a person told me was they way they would
prefer it. I also told the group that this was the personal recognition
system - designed by the individual who would receive the recognition.
Some got a note of thanks. Others public recognition. Others a "trash
and trinket" momento. But is was customized to what they told me, not what
I believed they might want. Most of them liked it. The ones that did not
want public recognition were not needlessly embarassed. On the other
hand, those who wanted public appreciation got it.

Food for thought. Take care and have a great day!!


Dave Buffenbarger Organizational Improvement Coach Dow Chemical Company

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