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Motivating performance

May 29, 2013

As part of the on-going debate over bonuses and incentives, McKinsey has re-issued an article from 2009 entitled “Motivating Without Money“.

The article contains research findings that suggest there are alternatives to financial incentives. For example, praise from immediate management actually emerges as the most motivating acknowledgement, with ‘attention from leaders’ and ‘opportunities to lead projects and task forces’ also beating cash bonuses or salary increases.

I don’t know the profile of the people participating in the McKinsey study, but I suspect these findings come as no great surprise to most contracts or procurement professionals. Indeed, as a community I suspect we are rather skeptical about the subject of bonuses. We have too often experienced the negative behaviors and distorted judgments that they create.

In addition, those in contracting and procurement overwhelmingly operate outside the incentive schemes of some business groups. We look quizzically at people who can apparently be motivated only by money. Indeed, our hard work is frequently not even acknowledged with praise, yet still we carry on. And the reason for that is because we know we make a difference and we have true professional pride in our achievements.

  1. Great illustration of the point – This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace; once you pay people enough to take the issue on money off the table.

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