From the high school level to the highest corporate teams, organisations use team incentive plans in an attempt to drive better performance. But these techniques can defeat the success that they should inspire. It's possible to avoid the disadvantages of team incentive plans by being aware of them and planning for problems that can arise.
Those outside of the group tend to attribute the team's success to its leader. This idea leads team members to resent their team leader. They have less incentive to donate ideas and foster creativity because they won't get credit. The situation worsens when those outside of the group promote or acclaim the team leader for the group's success. At the worst, team members may decide to withhold productivity in order to remove the team leader.
When the number of significant tasks to be completed is fewer than the number of people in the group, groups give some members less important tasks or assign them to work with others on projects that don't require multiple contributors. This leads to a feeling of insignificance and leaves members feeling overlooked and unappreciated.
Repeatedly being assigned to less vital tasks can leave members with a lowered sense of self-importance and unhappy at work. This leads to lower future production as these employees will be less willing to work hard for the organisation in the future.
Within the group, members naturally assess their own productivity in comparison to that of others. They'll see any difference in the subjective perception of contribution as an offence to the group, thinking others are unwilling to produce. They will make accusations against those perceived to have lower production and focus on countermanding or devaluing the offending member's work.
The primary goal of team incentive techniques is to promote creativity and positive collaboration, based on a belief that group work can do this more efficiently than a boss-organised technique. In a team, members are at the whim of the group consensus. Having to defend ideas against a large group of colleagues is more intimidating than explaining those ideas to a single boss. Additionally, the discussing that follows a suggestion that is counter to a group's consensus becomes insensitive and demoralising when team members won't listen to the idea.
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