This week, working with a group of managers, I have been examining 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 be resentful of the extra work, so they slow down their rate of production or lessen the quality of their work, stop trying so hard, fall into victimhood, or seek to transfer out of the company altogether.

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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 recognition of their achievements, we all see and feel the evident 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, the work has 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 so hard and recognizing the achievement
Change negative consequence to an immediate positive consequence 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 negative. Plus, sometimes just recognizing that someone is doing extra and thanking them is helpful. And when performance evaluation time comes being sure that you have documented and let the employee know you documented the work, and that it will be recognized with merit increase.

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