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Derek Irvine, Globoforce

Great dissection of the difference between compensation and motivation. Of course they didn't need the cash/compensation. Doc understands powerfully the needs for motivation. It was never about getting back to LA to get the cash.

One thing that should be clarified (and resolves many of the problems of linking reward to performance) is the "currency" used for reward. By their very nature, cash recognition (or bonuses) are a problem as cash quickly becomes an entitlement and is easily confused with (or subsumed by) compensation. If the goal is to recognize above and beyond efforts of employees then recognition with a different “currency” than the cash used in compensation must be applied. That’s where strategic recognition comes in — giving a different currency for recognition with clearly defined and oft-repeated reasons deserving of recognition — to ensure employees know when they are being PAID vs. being REWARDED.

I wrote more on this here.

Jay Shepherd

Great comment and great article, Derek! Thanks for sharing them both. For another angle on the value of bonuses, see our post from three years ago about Apple's giving its employees a free iPhone when it was first launched: "Employee satisfaction for $2.40 a day."



Love the real example of a creative way to tap into everyone's competitive nature. One of the issues I've been struggling with is how far can you motivate C-Players? Which leads to how do you know when a performance gap is a training issue or a recruiting issue? Any thoughts?

Harris Silverman

The point about motivating rather than compensating is great, but it's important to remember that not everybody is motivated by the same things. A sports team is probably a lot more homogeneous in terms of personality types than most workplaces. For companies, some variety of motivators is needed to achieve maximum effectiveness.

John Carraway

I personally thought the whole money enevelope by the Celtics was pretty hokey. In my opinion, most people work b/c they are motivated by their paycheck. If you didn't pay them, most wouldn't work--which helps explain why so many people only do the minimum to get by. It's probably easier to get rid of C players than trying to motivate them in the workplace.

Josephine Victor

Nice article. Always appreciate your team members, even the small tasks that result in the leader saying ‘thank you’ can make people strive harder for appreciation. While communicating, choose your words wisely; be humble, use words like we instead of I.

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