Rewarding Through Development

Neil Morrison raised an interesting question this week on his blog, why is there so little talk about reward? He gave me the opportunity to rant (again?!) about pay secrecy and why I think it sucks, and Lee Haury chipped in too with a great point about balanced scorecards, performance management and the twisted way they link to pay and screw up team performance at the same time. Well worth a read.

I also checked in over at Paul Hebert‘s place and read a good piece on why even though a lot of managers rate cash as king when it comes to incentives, it isn’t the best award, experiences are. I agree with Paul that cash is a lousy motivator beyond having enough, and for sure the sense of entitlement it creates is a biiig problem. My recent trip to the US earned me enough money – but for sure it was all the experiences I soaked up along the way that motivate me and energise and engage me.

This stuff has got me thinking about if and how development could be a more important part of the reward picture. Personal and career development opportunities, and particularly the lack of them, often comes up as a problem in employee surveys, and I don’t see much evidence of the problem being addressed. Could the idea of being given complete flexibility and choice over your some or even all of your development budget be a great way of recognising/motivating people?

I think this should go over and above the oft quoted ‘Google 20% time‘, in so far as it could extend to whatever development the individual felt would be helpful. So if someone wants to learn bookbinding, let them. If someone wants to learn to paint, let them. If someone wants to learn to cook, coach, build spreadsheets (seriously??), develop products, study law, ride a bike, let them. Can we devise a simple scheme whereby the employer provides access and investment both financially and through making time available to people, as a means of rewarding performance?

I’d like to think creative, clever people would be attracted to an employer who offered that kind of latitude around personal development in the belief that happy people with chances to self determine would be more likely to deliver better business results. How about it? And if you already see it going on, how’s it working out?

photo credit