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As companies seek to empower employees, work teams have fast become the latest man management trend. This has given rise to variable pay systems such as “team-based pay,” which awards raises, bonuses and incentives based on team performance.
“It’s certainly an idea whose time has come,” says Robert L. Heneman, director of the Consortium for Alternative Reward Strategies at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University in Columbus. “But it hasn’t gotten off the ground yet,” he adds, “because some employees `ride along’ with a team, letting the more talented and motivated people do the work.”
What happens next is that the “stars” suffer because team performance is undermined and, as a result, everyone’s paycheck is jeopardized. Society, Heneman adds, is conditioned to be rewarded for individual accomplishment; therefore the concept of pay being linked to group performance is hard for many individuals to grasp. Below, Heneman offers tips for increasing team member accountability and ensuring the best compensation for all:
- Be informed. Ask your boss how he or she defines a good team player and what factors go into determining team compensation.
- Peer pressure. Confront those team members who are “social loafers.” Describe their faults in concrete, behavioral terms. For example, “You’re always coming to meetings late and you’re never prepared. You need to stats pulling your weight.”
- Be observant. From the synchronization of an orchestra to the synergy of an emergency room medical team, examples of teamwork abound. Watch other teams, read management books and help your team members model their finer points.