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Turning his attention to employee compensation, Pink, who served as chief speech writer to former Vice President Al Gore, pointed to the British firm Red Gate Software, where the heavily commissioned sales team was challenged by individuals "gaming the system" to earn higher commissions and by recurring problems with collaboration. When individual commissions were replaced with an incentive plan that gave all sales force members a share of the profits at year end, collaboration went up, as did customer satisfaction, Pink said. (He elaborates his views on sales team commissions
Pink urged compensation managers to "challenge the assumption that when you reward behavior, you get more of it, and when you punish behavior, you get less of it. People are not that simple."
It's not that money isn't important, Pink noted, but "people have more sophisticated needs. Human beings are profoundly attuned to the norm of fairness." In viewing total rewards, Pink called for "a wider notion of 'total.'"
"Pay people enough to take money off the table," he advised, and then "focus on the work, not the money," as a motivator.
Employees "can't be controlled into engagement," he contended. But "greater autonomy over their time, their team, their tasks and their work techniques" can lead to increased engagement, productivity and profitability.
CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
SHRM members can share their thoughts about this article by participating in the SHRM Connect discussion,
Pay and performance: What's 'fair'?
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Pay for Performance: Make It More than a Catch-Phrase,
SHRM Online Compensation Discipline, May 2011
Pink: Raise the Employee Engagement Ante,
SHRM Online Staffing Management Discipline, April 2011
Pink: Use More than Social Media to Engage Workers, SHRM Online Staffing Management Discipline, May 2010
Forget Carrots and Sticks, They Don't Always Work,
The Telegraph, May 2010
Carrots, Sticks and Creativity: A Lesson in Staff Motivation, Toronto Star, April 2010
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