Impact of Rewarding Team Members

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Everyone likes a good reward! This includes team members at work. Find out how they can be rewarded and some nuances regarding this with respect to rewarding teams vs. individual team members.

Rewarding Yourself

When we were kids, we were rewarded with certificates, presents, or even a trip. It was a nice feeling when you would get something for achieving a significant feat. And all of that carries over to our professional lives. Who doesn't like being rewarded for accomplishing something important? Both individuals and teams of individuals enjoy being rewarded.

In this lesson, we will go over some of the many types of rewards teams and team members can get. Some are tangible and others are not. Then we discuss what impact all of this may have either on teams or individuals, depending on context.

Types of Rewards

There are many monetary, currency-based, and non-monetary reward examples of ways by which team members (or entire teams in some cases) can be rewarded. Here are just a few of them:

  • Prizes. These can literally be everything from a watch to a vacation.
  • Base pay increases, so long as performance targets are met.
  • Bonuses given at the end of a year for one's performance. This could be a fixed amount, as a percentage of income, or a percentage of something else.
  • Recognition. This could be as simple as someone's name on a plaque of employee(s) of the month.
  • The possibility of promotion to a superior position/title.

Again, such incentives can be used on an individual basis but they can also be used on a team level. For example, profit sharing can be distributed among a team at the end of the year.

Impact on Teams & Individuals

On that note, it's important to discuss the impact such incentives may have on a team or individual-based level. The point of a team is to have individuals work together to achieve a goal that no one person would be able to alone.

However, not everyone on a team has the same amount of experience or knowledge. In fact, there could be team members with very different roles. Furthermore, not every team member is going to pull their own weight.

This means that in some scenarios team-based rewards, without regard to individual characteristics, can backfire. This is especially true for teams with generally low-interdependence and low trust among team members. In such instances, a team based incentive might cause high-performers to stop putting in their regular amount of effort. Why bother to try hard if a lazy free-rider will get the same bonus?

As you can imagine, this can have a negative impact on team morale and on overall goal achievement. So, a hybrid approach may be used in such scenarios, one that incentivizes individual team members based on their roles and skillsets but where the team role for success is emphasized by management nonetheless.

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