The Incentives Need to Change

If you want to attract the best people, then it’s  time to change the way we work and the incentives that are offered.

Right now, as an executive with another 20 years to work, looking towards my future path of longer hours and more stress is not a bright one. The ball and chain technology has created seems daunting to say the least. Society has changed, organizations have changed, but many incentive and compensation models appear to be struggling to keep pace.

Perhaps it was manageable to put up with the stress and workload prior to the changing technology that makes it too easy for us to always to be ‘on’.   Perhaps people really took on the increased responsibility in the last stretch of their career, with the goal of retirement at a not too distant future and with a family that was more independent than that of a young family. But times have changed, and as the baby boomers retire, the new generation of leaders will want something more than being chained to emails for their next 20 years.

The repetitive model of working harder, getting a better profile, and earning more challenging  projects does not look bright.   Society convinced us that more power, more influence and more money was all worth it. Not only do we now realize that this idea is flawed and none of it actually brings fulfillment, but the former is also limited at best in most bureaucratic organizations and the latter we know deep down we don’t need.

The traditional incentives are not going to keep the new generation of leaders going for the next 20 years, and if they do, they’re not the people you want. Society has placed too much value on career success versus life success, and the pendulum is ready to swing back – and you need to be ready for it.

Allow us to be the people we are capable of being – make the incentive autonomy and freedom to live our Why and you may be onto something. You may actually promote creativity and develop inspiring teams and products.

Dr. David Rock  coined the term ‘Neuroleadership’ and describes autonomy  as one of the key motivators of the brain.

This term can mean different things to different people, so we shouldn’t create a cookie cutter solution. For some, autonomy may mean freedom to lead their team and projects the way they see fit in order to achieve organizational goals, outside of the unnecessary constraints that stifle creativity.

For me, I think it really aligns with results based employment. Give me the vision, give me the endstate and give me the broad boundaries. But don’t constrain me and tell me the direction I need to take to get there; thinking that collecting some money every time I pass Go is going to keep me motivated. Make my incentive autonomy and freedom, hire me for my Why and let me thrive by living it. Most importantly, give me the trust required to do my job.

So, if the incentive you offer has a foundation based on money or power then you’re going to lose. We’ve seen the future and it’s not bright. Dare to trust and make the incentive autonomy and freedom – give us the space to lead and live our Why, and you may have better  odds.

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