Just When You Think You're Done With a Subject...

Last post I provided a link to Peter Bregman’s blog about motivation and the role of reward and self-realization in each individual’s drive toward achievement. And I really thought that would be it. But then I got to digging around the TED site (for a quick update, you can check what I wrote about it here – it includes a link), and came across this presentation given by Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation. It’s just under 19 minutes long, but you’ll want to watch the whole thing because there is some great material here. (As with my last blog, I’d suggest you watch before reading on. We’ll wait for you.) 

At the root: Pay for performance does not succeed. Well, in some cases it works. For tasks and duties that require pure mechanical skills, bonuses and raises and financial incentives will lead to better production. However, as soon as even rudimentary cognitive skills are required, these same tools lead to poorer (let me repeat that – poorer) performance. Watch the video to get the real impact of this point.
So, in your audit shop, how do you reward behavior? How do you measure your top performers? And is your work mechanical or cognitive? I posit that it is time for us to fundamentally rethink the way we pay/reward/incentivize auditors. It is time to realize that the main trait we need for auditors to succeed is the creative inquisitiveness of a discoverer, and our current approaches (the approaches that are more than likely forced on us by our companies) do not provide the incentive necessary for that kind of person to succeed.
I’ve probably gone a little far afield here, but this presentation helped me realize that our current reward systems do not lead to our finding and developing the kind of thinkers we need in internal audit. Instead, it supports the kind of people who can meet a deadline, make it under budget, fill out every box required by the workpaper standards; all the while missing the real solutions that lie outside their narrowed perceptions.
Watch the video. (Have I said that already?) Take a look at your reward systems. And ask if it is not time for a change. And if you think your current approach is working, maybe you are measuring the wrong success.

Posted on May 13, 2010 by Mike Jacka

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