You may recall that he did not like programs like “employee of the month” for a couple of reasons. If they truly recognized superior performance, then your small group of superior performers would win every month. And if you ensured that “everybody had a fair chance” at winning, then you’re rewarding poor performance.
New research at Washington University in St. Louis confirms this, and adds another point: employees will game the system to give themselves the best chances of winning. So you end up rewarding those who are good at winning contests, not necessarily those who contribute to achieving the organization’s objectives:
- “The researchers show that two types of unintended consequences limit gains from the reward program. First, employees game the program, improving timeliness only when eligible for the award, and strategically calling in sick to retain eligibility.
- “Second, employees with perfect pre-program attendance or high productivity suffered a 6 percent to 8 percent productivity decrease after program introduction, suggesting that awards for good behavior they already exhibited de-motivated them.”
Note that “timeliness” is a performance metric and like all such metrics is susceptible to gaming.
What the second bullet indicates is that programs like this destroy Einheit.