Should You Incentivize Rocks

Should I Incentivize Rock Completion?

By: Jeanet Wade, Certified EOS Implementer

Towards the end of the year, I receive a lot of questions like the following:

“If achieving priorities is important, wouldn’t it motivate people to behave accountable when achieving Rocks if we pay them a bonus or cash incentive?”

My first response is always: “Be careful! There are unintended consequences to this decision.” 

Let’s start with, do cash incentives work? I worked in the incentive industry for close a decade. The majority of the research says that cash incentives do not work. Cash incentives worked well when the U.S. was an industrial economy. Now that we are primarily a service based economy they don’t work quite as well. Daniel Pink has a great video on motivation and rewards if you would like more detail: 

However, looking at what actually happens in companies that run on EOS, I’ve witnessed a few common issues with tying Rocks to compensation:

  • Weak Rocks – Easy, ‘softball’ Rocks that don’t achieve real results for the greater good of the company. Rocks need to be SMART and they become dumb when we use incentives.
  • No Vulnerability – Not admitting Rocks are off track or asking for help. We don’t have an opportunity to coach and mentor on Rock achievement or solve Issues to keep them on track.
  • Silos – They work for their own team or department and not the company vision as a whole. Afterall, we are aligning people energy to row in the same direction to achieve the Vision.
  • Egos – We are dealing with human beings. If they’re not past Maslow’s fist level of needs, they will achieve they’re Rocks to “feed their family” at the cost of helping others achieve their Rocks or focusing on the top priority Rocks (Company Rocks).

Rocks work because we have created a system of accountability in our organization, we report on them weekly in our L10 meetings, and as leaders and managers we have created a compelling vision that everyone knows they’re role and purpose in achieving. 

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