Here at Snowfly, we are often asked by our clients whether they should focus on individual recognition or team recognition. Having graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, where I was trained by both Navy and Marine Corps personnel on various occasions, I am no stranger to the power of motivation using mutual team success/failure. I never wanted to be the one who was responsible for letting my team down or causing others to have to do extra push-ups. I also was taught that team success was always more important that individual success, and lived that way throughout my college experience. On several occasions, I witnessed classmates and fellow midshipmen sacrifice their time, often at the expense of their own grades and personal success, to help tutor or lighten the load of another midshipman. That was just the way it was done.
In the workplace, while the same level of selflessness may exist, it is just not sustainable over the long-term. Promotions, raises, additional earned benefits and incentives all mean different things to each person. Despite having common team goals, like a military unit tasked with a specific objective, most of us go to work and then go home to a different team than the one we just spent our entire workday with. When you live, eat, sleep and breathe the same mission with the same team all day every day, mutual goals, shared successes, and getting everyone home alive are all factors of what makes team incentives work in the military and exactly what is missing from incentive programs in the workplace where all rewards are team-based.
This concept is backed-up by the world of sports as well. For example, every member of an NFL Super Bowl winning team receives a championship ring and a bonus for winning the game. But, typically the player who received the most “individual recognition & rewards” for his contributions to the team, is also the highest paid player on that team. The superstar athletes are paid more because they earn it through their performance and yet, even they know that without the other 52 players on their team, there would be no championship. In other words, teams absolutely win championship games together, but it is the superstars who get their teams to the championship game to begin with.
Snowfly’s founder, Dr. Brooks Mitchell, shares some interesting insight into Individual vs. Team Rewards in the White Paper linked here. He provides compelling evidence as to why team rewards, while effective, are not as effective as individual rewards in the workplace. In his “75/25 Rule” explanation, Dr. Mitchell outlines how to include Team Rewards in an incentive program while still maximizing the ROI of every incentive dollar you spend by ensuring that your top performers, those whose efforts improve the performance of the rest of their team, should be compensated the most for their individual contributions. If more than 25% of your incentive budget is earmarked for “team” performance, take a few minutes to read the White Paper and learn what you can do to balance out your team vs. individual reward structure.
Read the White Paper here: 75/25 Rule