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What are we Rewarding?

By Neil Crofts

A news item this week announced that a record number of graduates had applied for jobs in the banking industry.

So what?

The banking industry has had plenty of publicity about the amount it pays, so it is pretty obvious that the bright ones choose to follow the money.  However this conflicts with other longer term studies which say that so called Generation Y are more ethically driven and are harder to recruit to less ethical and more hierarchical companies.  Unless, of course, they believe they can earn masses of money.

The point is that behaviour and decisions follows reward.  If one sector of the  economy is disproportionately rewarding it will attract the cream of talent and investment.

Why would graduates or investors, who have a choice, invest in other sectors, like manufacturing, farming, medicine, education or energy, when the rewards in the banking sector are so high?  And so we approach what Douglas Adams described as the “Shoe event horizon”.  In his fictional example a planet where only shoe related businesses won investment or attracted great people and as a result the economy and society collapsed. In the UKs, actual case, where the economy becomes disproportionately biased towards banking.

The wider point is that whatever behaviours and decisions are rewarded in any environment are the behaviours that you will largely, get.

For example, if a business seeks teamwork then team rewards need to be offered in preference to individual bonuses and commissions.  Requesting one and rewarding the other just creates confusion and leads to compromised results.

In professional cycling, which is a fascinating mixture of team and individual sport, it has long been customary for winners to share their prize money with their team mates.

Imagine the shift in dynamics of your organisation if commissioned staff were to independently decide to share their commission with their support staff.  Receptionists, cleaners, assistants and others…

All of this brings us to the bigger point.  On the whole, we operate society hierarchically and heroically, as an individual race to the top rather than as a team.  At school we still teach hierarchically and  collaboration is called cheating (mostly).  At work most rewards are individual.  We tend to elevate individuals at the expense of others, often unconsciously, individually, corporately and nationally, as if the objective of life is to “win” alone in a crowd of “losers”.

The more subtle reality is that no one ever wins alone.

In spite of the relentless propaganda, no individual hero, does it alone, there is always a support team of some sort.  Many promising careers and ideas are compromised by our egotistical “do it alone” mentality, which ignores the enabling support that goes into all achievement.

To get everyone aligned around what we actually want to achieve, we must first be really clear about our objectives, not just the resources we require to do it in terms of profits, revenue, offices or staff, but our vision for what we want to achieve, as a team.  Then we need to co-create and align around a strategy and then engage everyone with a share of the benefit in it’s achievement.

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With love


Neil Crofts
authentic business
+34 646391384
Skype – neilcrofts