Saturday, February 7, 2009

Inspiration for teamwork


Some thoughts inspired by a recent discussion on Community vs Personal Credit at
Particularly in high-tech industry, teamwork and knowledge-sharing makes organizations productive. On the other hand, the appreciation of others and the benefits of social standing in a group are the most important motivations for a lot of employees. Relationships with colleagues make people either happy and productive, or miserable and unmotivated at work.
Many organizations work very hard to increase productivity by improving the employee motivation. A lot of thought goes into designing clever compensation schemes that align personal financial interests of employees with organizational performance. However, the bonuses and the raises happen very infrequently, usually once a year, while motivation is needed every day of the week. In addition, money is not a strong motivation for everyday performance for most people. These schemes take a lot of effort to create and execute, but ultimately fail to deliver on their goal of inspiring the employees.
Significantly less effort appears to be devoted to managing the social structure in the organization. Cooperation is not particularly rewarded, and the office jerk regularly gets ahead. There are hardly any programs that reward knowledge sharing with individual performance credit. It is normally up to each individual to persuade, cajole and bribe their coworkers into teamwork, against the carefully designed organizational incentives.
Fortunately, it is not very hard to get many people to cooperate. Many are happy to join the team and cooperate, because that is what makes people feel good. People prefer to work together even if HR-designed financial incentives suggest that it is better to strive for individual credit, rather than cooperate with others.
Still, an organization that figures out how to reward cooperation and knowledge-sharing will enjoy the highest employee productivity and a reputation for a happiest place to work.

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