Most North American companies and organizations reward individual performance. We celebrate our individuality and want to be compensated and rewarded for our efforts. However, if you want your people to perform as a team, you must reward them as a team.
Ways to Reward Team Efforts:
What Gets Measured Gets Done. Bolt your reward system to your company and team’s metrics. Make sure your team has defined goals and measures of success. Reward results, not just activity.
Compensate the Team. Once a team-oriented infrastructure is in place (goals, measures, appraisal systems, training), then your compensation system (salary increases, promotions, and bonuses) can be tied to actual team performance. The possibilities range from a system where all team members share equally in the rewards to a peer evaluation system to reward team and individual contributions.
Share the Wealth. In some instances, teams are highly dependent on other teams, functions, or other companies! Consider a profit-sharing or stock option plan that distributes the rewards among all of the teams, based on the performance of the higher-level unit to which they contribute.
Pay for Skills. Compensate team members based on the skills they have rather than the jobs they hold. Skill-based pay systems motivate team members to learn new skills (e.g. cross training, self-management, information technology, business skills) that benefit the team, increasing its potential for high performance. The key is to encourage team learning, not just ticket-punching.
It’s a Matter of Time. As people experience working together on teams, they will become more comfortable with their team skills, relationships, and abilities to succeed as a team. As the numbers of teams succeed, the organization will begin to recognize that teams are a powerful strategy for achieving specific business results.
Over time, this teeming critical mass will push up against the current reward system in support of tying their rewards to the performance of others in addition to their own performance. Just make sure the two systems aren’t working at cross purposes!
Be Patient. People’s pay is an emotional issue. It will take time before team members and leaders are ready to accept a literal shift in values to support collaborative decision-making, collective goals, team performance, and shared rewards.