Kerr’s (1995) classic article “On the Folly of Rewarding A, While Hoping for B” of central point is that we can expect people to rationally do the things that are rewarded rather than the things we say they should do. There has been a sentence said, “Put your money on self interest. At least you know the jockey is trying” (Kerr, 1995).
When this concept reflected on my past work experience, I fell so pleasure I worked in such an enjoyable work environment before. In our company, we do not follow the normal reward line. We reward through the creative way when we do things differently. Most of people from our company will not get clear instructions what they will do in office, and then stick to that once the rule selected. In fact, we have a reward system that encourages contrary behavior.
The above is example of reward systems which encourage behavior contrary to what is wanted.
Under our organizational reward system, most of people strictly follow the team rewards, so they have no incentive to resist their individual behavior. Some people do not behave that way and try to improve their individual performance, yet they still do not get any reward. Even they get reward, but they are rewarded by something else.
There are several reasons why organizations behave in such a way. Therefore, we can solve the issues together. Firstly, organizations have less ability to break out of old ways of thinking about reward practices. So, organizations should continually develop new conventional wisdoms to reward, such as empowerment of employees, or teamwork, benchmarking, or customer focus. Secondly, organizations have lack of an overall system to review performance factors and results. However, it is easier to endorse individual but actually reward the things organizations really believe matter. The folly of rewarding one thing while hoping for another is more apparent than real. Organizations should effectively communicate with employees working towards purpose. It helps organizations how to review the results based on employee’s accountability and responsibility. Finally, organization’s management team and shareholders focus more on short term results and benefits. It is easier to demonstrate action today than considering consequences several years later. But organization’s management team and shareholders should take account of the broader systems and reward mechanisms that drive their businesses more successful, otherwise they will still keep making the mistake of rewarding A while hoping for B and being disappointed with the result (De Dreu et al., 2008).
De Dreu, Carsten K W, Nijstad, B. A., & van Knippenberg, D. (2008). Motivated information processing in group judgment and decision making. Personality and Social Psychology Review : An Official Journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc, 12(1), 22-49. doi:10.1177/1088868307304092
Kerr, S. (1995). On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B. Academy of Management Executive, 9 (1): 7-16.