Creating Rewards Systems That Work, Via Podcast

Last Updated Jan 25, 2009 2:07 PM EST

The Takeaway: Never mind the long spiel on Greek mythology and Herman Melville at the opening of the podcast, around six minutes in things get more interesting when Steve Kerr finally shows up and starts talking about his years of experience crafting rewards systems that actually work. Kerr lays out fundamental principles 0f successful reward systems, including:
  • Rewards must be available (and right now money just isn't available for many firms).
  • People must be eligible (a principle which starts the host off on complaining about operations staff frequently being ineligible for sales-only rewards.)
  • Rewards should be scarce, visible and timely (leading to some discussion of the phenomenon of the annual review and efforts to game the system).
  • Rewards should be reversible.
The lengthy interview goes into greater detail on many of these points and also delves into surrounding topics like the wisdom of some of Jack Welch's management principles, including firing the bottom ten percent of performers every year and pushing all staff to publicly post the amount of their bonuses. Also, Kerr offers an inside view of Goldman Sachs in difficult times.

The Question: Do you have any rewards systems success stories (or nightmares) to offer as examples (or cautionary tales)?

(Image of trophies by terren in Virginia, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.