Individual rewards can `supercharge` team performance

Washington D.C, Mar 12 (ANI): Reward systems that focus on individual performance can boost employees’ work zest, raising the performance of the team as a whole.

Co-author Bradley Kirkman said that the findings are based on laboratory and field experiments in China and those findings tell them that recognizing individual team members can supercharge team performance.

In lab experiments, the researchers at the University of Iowa, Texas Christian University and Tsinghua University had 256 students at a large Chinese university perform individual tasks (making small boxes) and then combine into groups to perform a team task (building the boxes into towers).

“In contrast to much of the conventional wisdom that recognizing individuals might somehow hurt the success of the team, we found that recognizing individual team members helps teams in two important ways” Kirkman said.

He noted that rather than stimulate resentment in a team, as might be the case with financial rewards, public recognition of high performers actually motivates a strong desire to succeed in the rest of the team members. Scientists call these ‘recognition spillover effects’ because they transfer from one team member to another.

“Second,” Kirkman added, “because each team member is changing his or her behavior to match the actions of the most successful team member, the performance of the whole team rises. And we found that these spillover effects are magnified if the reward recipient is someone who is central to the team — i.e., someone that other team members often turn to for assistance.”

However, Kirkman does have two warnings for businesses aiming to implement the findings. First, make sure that all team leaders in the company are using these reward programs as when only some teams have a reward program, performance actually drops in teams that don’t have the program and second, make sure that team leaders are fair when deciding which team members to recognize.

The study appears in the Journal of Applied Psychology. (ANI)

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