Monday, January 7, 2008

Everyday Excellence

“Money is not a motivator – people expect to be compensated fairly. In fact, money can be a powerful demotivator. As soon as people feel that their compensation is unfair, money becomes very important, and we enter the realm of negative motivation. This occurs when most of the other motivational factors are weak or absent, and compensation remains as the sole measure of their success.”

Requests for a pay increase. People may threaten to leave unless they get more money. What if you find their claim is unjustified? Are you going to raise their pay because of the threat? If you succumb, the word will get out. Others will realise that the only way to get more money is by threatening to leave. You are then faced with an anomaly: outspoken staff get more than the more reserved staff. This is not a fair picture, nor a happy one. Once you start to make exceptions, the whole system might collapse.”

Money and productivity. Some staff members claim that if they get paid more they could be more productive. This is laughable. They are really telling their manager that they are not working very hard at the moment. It also illustrates that pay, performance, and motivation form a flimsy link.”

“Raise someone’s pay by 5 per cent. Are you going to see a 5 per cent increase in productivity? Unlikely. If you doubled someone’s pay, could they be twice as effective in the same position? Probably not. There has to be a threshold. Is there a just-noticeable difference in performance when someone gets a pay increase in your organisation?”

“Nor should one expect more money to lead to an increase in morale. The opposite may even occur. A perceived lack of equity in salary or bonus can result in grumpiness and lack of effort. Even if their compensation is excellent, some people are never satisfied. More money can even lead to a slacking off and a drop in morale if the employee thinks, ‘is that the best they can do?’ It is easy to define the bottom line when it comes to compensation and motivation: It is the perception of fairness. This is not always easy to achieve.”

Clive Shearer in ‘Everyday Excellence: Creating a better workplace through attitude, action, and appreciation’ (

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