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There has to be a Better Way You could be Rewarded

If I had some extra time on my hands I would set out to revamp how performance reviews are done, especially for project teams, especially for you. Too often performance reviews are based on individual performance over team performance. I think about this often and looking back on some posts I have written, this seems to be a topic I bring up every now and then. Recently, I attended a seminar and the speaker said something that triggered this thought again. He said, in so many words, “When working on a team you need to know your background and experience. If something comes up that needs to get done, and it aligns with your experience, say…’I can help with that’.” This is regardless of your job title or function. It seems obvious and makes sense, but often people stay in their silos. Why is that? Is it money? Is it performance measures based on your job title? Is it due to how individuals get promoted? You know the routine. You can’t get promoted into a role until you show you can do it. So people don’t focus on what the team needs, they focus on doing tasks that will get them promoted. Another thing is employee of the month programs. Too often they promote the hero mentality. People that win this award are the ones that sweep in and save a failing initiative. They work extra time and save the day. This promotes anti-teamwork behavior.

So why do I think those issues are the culprit? Because team productivity works when those things are not an issue. I am on a volunteer committee and how we are operating is an example of how teams should operate. I have no title… just committee member. The only ones with a designation are the co-chairs. The reason for that is it helps with organization and points of contact for other groups to interact with us. They know they can reach out to the chairs if they have questions/comments. The chair can then get the right people involved. When we formed as a committee we worked on three things after having a shared understanding of our goals and objectives.

  1. We talked about our experience. What we did in our professional and personal lives. What we were good at and what we were not so good at. What we were passionate about and why we wanted to be on the committee. Lastly, what we would like to get more experience with.
  2. We determine what had to be done. Knowing our goal, we discussed what things we need to do in order to reach that goal. We did a little planning!
  3. Then we let people step up and pick tasks they wanted to take on. This was not straight forward as we ended up having gaps and overlaps. There were tasks that had too many people wanting to focus on. And we had tasks no one wanted. And we had some tasks where people wanted to take on, but it was a stretch with their skills. Where there was overlap we discussed the task in more detail and made decisions on who should take the task. Where there was no one taking a task we talked to the people that could do it and did a little arm twisting! I refer to that as “voluntelling”. Where we didn’t have anyone able or stepping up we went outside the group to get help. In one case we added a committee member. In other circumstances we found others outside the team to help on specific items. The team consistently looks at our competencies and what gaps we have. With gaps we fill them by bringing other people in on a temporary basis or bring them in on a full time basis.

There are no egos. We have a very clearly defined goal and we keep our eyes on that goal. During all of this there is team recognition by others outside the organization. There are individual recognition for work people are doing. That recognition comes in the form of pats on the back. We have a mechanism for feedback, good and bad, from people outside the committee and we debrief often to make sure we self manage and correct. Our measurement is one thing and one thing only…our team objective. We meet that objective, we succeed. If we don’t, we fail. As far as I can tell there are no individual goals for making more money and career advancement. The funny thing is that by acting in this manner we are trending towards meeting the objective and exceeding others expectations. And some of us are being asked to be “promoted”. Some of the team members were asked to be on the board of the organization. (Some may think it is a promotions, others not so much!) So, we are all getting recognized as team players and who knows maybe an individual win will come from this for some.

What’s the difference? Money and hopes for promotion keep coming up as the root cause. Knowing that it is natural for you and other company employees to want more money and a promotion, what can be measured? Things need to change because the current paradigm does not support great team work.

For this post I did a search for Human Resource articles on how to reward people to gain better team work. My search came up empty. Now, I did not spend days or weeks on this, but still nothing of significance. I have spoken with others about this and the ones doing something seem to find ways “around” the system. That’s good for a little while, but not a long term solution.

In the meantime what can management do today? They can reward individuals for being team members. That is do they sit with their team and gain a shared understanding of the goal? Do they step up for tasks where they have experience? Do they do things that are necessary even though it is not something that overly excites them? Do they raise their hand and admit the team does not have the right competencies and help find others that can help? These are the things that bring about positive results and that’s the end goal.

All the best,

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