Apr 23, 2018The Ripple Effect Blog

I have had countless conversations about how to go about designing the perfect Incentive Scheme.  In a world where business leaders grapple with concepts like accountability, performance, loyalty, sense of urgency and personal ownership within their teams, many default to money as the mechanism to manifest them.

When people are paid to perform a specific function in a particular manner and they don’t, can more money be the thing that changes their behaviour?

Money as a motivator?

Money is very seldom at the top of individual’s list of things that motivate them.  Recognition, a challenge, growth opportunities, a healthy working environment, success and respectful interpersonal relationships are higher priorities.

I have often witnessed the presence of a FEAR, a lack of confidence, a lack of motivation, blame and the presence of conflict limiting people but seldom have I seen people working ineffectively due to the level of their pay.  I can see how it can happen, it is just that the other barriers I listed are very common.

Entrepreneurs limit their creativity when attempting to unlock potential in their team members when they assume everyone feels about money like they do.  While a person can have a good relationship with money, it does not automatically mean that this good relationship requires excess amounts of money.  Some people have a bad relationship with money.  More money in the household could mean more pain.  Not everyone who earns a salary gets to determine how the money is spent.  Rich people aren’t always the best advert for happy living either.

Statements like money cannot buy happiness, money is the root of all evil and make some money but don’t let money make you promote a certain guard.

Many people have come to realise they are not defined by their possessions.  Young and old alike, either through direct experience or through observation, have seen that the idea of always wanting is a potential obstacle for a life filled with gratitude and “in the moment living”.

The unintended consequences

Incentive schemes would be easy to design if they didn’t have the nasty tendency to create unintended consequences.  By buying one behaviour people often take the focus away from a behaviour which falls outside of the ambit of the incentive.

Other strategies considered by business leaders to address shortcomings in behaviour are also not guaranteed to work.  Offering shareholding, sharing profits and team travel incentives might go some length in building enthusiasm but please don’t think that after implementing any form of incentive that you as business leader will never again have to manage people.  In fact, I believe things could get worse as your level of expectation will increase.

One-on-ones are effective within a more holistic strategy of talent management.  I recommend using such a forum to have conversations about personal motivators, career aspirations and especially the mentorees relationship with money.

Motivation, in my experience, is a personal thing

Different people have different motivators.  Motivators tend to change as life circumstances change.  A team member becoming a parent for the first time can literally have a change of heart and as a result what inspires them to achieve can change.

The notion of one size does not fit all is not only true for leadership style, communication approach and role allocations, it also should be avoided when incentivising individuals.

When people earn more they tend to spend more and very quickly they feel they are back where they were before the bigger pay EFT.

Feel free to share as sharing is said to be caring.  Don’t try share to buy something from another.  People cannot be bought.  Promoting the feeling that you care however is different.

Don’t share expecting a thank you

Lastly, people can be unappreciative.  Don’t share expecting a thank you.  Protect your emotional well-being before dishing out more money.   Make sure your intentions are pure and most of all do so unconditionally.

The Ripple Effect has helped business leaders to get more of the good stuff from team members without reverting to incentives.  We tap into the other factors – a sense of purpose and belonging, clarity of expectations, feeling valued through inclusion, ensuring there are successes to celebrate and healthy teamwork that makes the daily challenges so much easier to overcome.

Invest wisely in your people.


By Louis Gerke

Development FacilitatorThe Ripple Effect


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By Louis Gerke

Facilitator |  Coach | Trainer | Speaker

If this post interests you please feel free to share it: