This week, working with a group of managers, I have examined work systems, management behavior, and its effects on people’s performance, especially on teams.

People that are seen as high performers get more work. They come to resent the extra work, so they slow down their production rate or lessen their work quality, stop trying so hard, fall victimhood, or seek to transfer out of the company altogether.

Team Building leadership innovation management expert michael cardus
When you ask their manager, why do you give extra work to your highest performers?

They respond, “Of course, I give all the tough tasks and work to my go-to’s because they will get it done.”

While people enjoy challenging work tasks and recognizing their achievements, we all see and feel the unfairness.

If you are ‘rewarding’ top performers with more work, you are also ‘rewarding’ low performers with less work.

What influences Under-performance? 

In a meeting, I asked the managers:

Do negative consequences come from performance on the job? In ‘ reward ‘ for finishing work on time, are you giving more work or work that others don’t want to do?

Many answered YES, BUT what else are we supposed to do? Does the work have to get done?

Here are some ideas. PLEASE SHARE MORE it would be great to hear what you think.

Change the consequences by getting rid of the negative consequence.
  • Instead of piling more work on people who get their work done. Leave them to work on something they would like to work on. Like a FED-EX day where people have time to come up with ideas that they feel are important to the company, or benefits like time-off with pay or just thanking them for working hard and recognizing the achievement.
Change the negative consequence to an immediate positive impact for the same level of work to have more weight than the negative consequence.
  • For example, one company I consulted supplied each manager with $500.00 per/month to give to employees in no greater than $50.00 increments for completing work that could be seen as unfavorable. Plus, sometimes, just recognizing that someone is doing extra and thanking them is helpful. And when performance evaluation time comes, be sure you have documented and let the employee know you documented the work and that it will be recognized with a merit increase.

What do you think? These are not the best ideas, and they are a start. I would like to hear your thoughts.