Pay peanuts, get geniuses

The one oft repeated statement for performance or people’s capability issues is “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. I have used it several times myself and I realise now I was so wrong. I am conjecturing that this statement came about as part of the thinking that was propounded by economists Michael Jensen and William Meckling, in 1976 saying people work according to what they are paid.

And then in the intervening years we accepted that as the norm and crafted our incentive programs around it. The more you paid the better people would work. The theory also got proved over and over again till the age of knowledge workers came about. The monetary incentives didn’t work when the job involved thinking ! Then research showed that the knowledge workers want something more than just monetary incentives… they wanted a connect to the purpose, the community, continuous learning and the freedom to bring outlandish ideas to work.
Part of the reason why engagement surveys keep saying that employees are not engaged and none of the reward programs work is because we haven’t understood this shift that has happened … You can pay peanuts and get geniuses to work for you, if you let them be a genius at work :).

Read this outstanding book by Dan Pink “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” and share a copy with your team leaders so that the engagement score improvement happens along the right lines.


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