Joy is Good Business

Weekly Insights to Help You Reach Your Business Objectives



Focus on Outcome, Rather than Input

Let me get your reaction to a certain situation. You have an employee named Sam. Sam is often first to arrive and last to leave; regularly works 50-60 hours per week; does what it takes to get things done; replies to messages within minutes, day or night; and delivers high quality work. Would you give Sam a high, medium or low bonus?

Likely it would be a high bonus. Sam is working hard and doing well for the company.

How about this scenario? Sam leaves every day around 5:15 to catch a train for home; regularly works 40-45 hours per week; always meets deadlines; replies to messages within an appropriately responsive time; and delivers high quality work. Would you give Sam a high, medium or low bonus?

Again, you would likely give a high bonus. Sam is efficiently getting the job done at a high level.

I invite you to ponder a few more questions:

  1. Should both Sam’s get high bonuses?
  2. If you could only choose one Sam to be on your team, which would it be?
  3. If you give Sam #1 a high raise, do you realize that you are rewarding burnout behavior?
  4. Did you attach a gender to either Sam and would that impact your perception of the scenarios or bonus levels?

We could talk for an hour about your responses to these questions, but I will leave you to consider the implications on your own. I will say that as a society, we highly value hard work, commitment and sacrifice. Be very aware that by rewarding Sam #1’s behaviors, you are creating a slippery slope towards burnout.

If you want to create a human-centric workplace where team members can flourish holistically and with joy, you need to shift the priority to contribution, outcomes and results, rather than input, i.e., hours. Instead, reward those who consistently deliver against objectives, while maintaining boundaries around work hours. They will be with you and your company a lot longer.

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