lunes, 16 de julio de 2018


When I talk in my courses about rewards, I always like to recall a support request I received from a Spanish customer. This software company was facing considerable problems regarding the size of the user stories. After some consultancy with the teams affected, what came out was shocking: in order to increase the performance of the Scrum teams, the company’s management had attached a bonus to each sprint goal. 

The effect on the teams was terrible, as the Scrum teams focused on getting the reward, and not on meeting the sprint goal! Because of this bonus system,  at sprint planning only small, cristal-clear user stories with detailed requirements were accepted by the Scrum teams…

A lot has been written on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. But at some point we all realized, that the subject is far too complex, so that there is no easy rule of thumb you can apply in your company to nurture intrinsic motivation: surely knowledge workers like money as anybody else!
However, what really stroke me by reading ‘Drive’ from D. Pink , is the fact that intrinsic motivation is ‘new’. It was 1949 at the University of Wisconsin, when Harlow and Deci, testing the behaviour of monkeys, mentioned for the first time what amounted to be the third drive (D. Pink, ‘Drive’). That is, over thousands of years, the human mankind was not aware that intrinsic motivation even exists!
When it comes to monetary rewards or bonuses, it is crucial to making sure that the subject ‘money’ is out of the table, so that people can concentrate on doing a great job. I normally recommend the companies I work with to pay their employees their market value: this way, money is not an issue anymore.
 Jürgen Appelo defined 6 excellent rules for rewards, and, even if I take stock in all of them, especially the last one, Reward peers, not subordinates, gives a very different perspective to this subject. 

More information about Rewards :

For the ones who don’t know it yet, it is worth to take a close look to the tool Bonusly: applying the concepts of ‘merit money’ you can distribute some self-defined currency units among your peers, with a short description why. Each and every company has the possibility to define how those units are converted into real money, all within a transparent process! Apple, Amazon, Nike.. are some of the enterprises were Bonusly is being successfully applies.

My personal advice to any enterprise seeking to get the best out of their knowledge workers is, avoid monetary rewards by integrating the yearly bonus in the regular salary. After that, make sure your employees’ salary matches their market value, so that money is not an issue anymore. Last but not least, be bold and give Bonusy a try…who knows, you might get a pleasant surprise!

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