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What a great point about culture! Even people who understand the big picture will act in their own best interests, especially if they fear getting fired or reprimanded. If you want people to move out of their comfort zone, you have to offer them something more compelling than comfort.

Laura, what was so interesting in our conversation was the HR practitioner didn't notice the contradiction between their culture (don't rock the boat) and their philosophy of pay for performance (make your results better, and distinguish the employees who have achieve results that are better than others). To make the pay for performance program work in this setting, leadership would have to acknowledge that it involves a transformational change in the organization and plan to move out of everyone's comfort zone. Otherwise, employees may become skeptical about management's abilities (well they can't pull this one off, can they) or angry at management's insincerity (they say this is important, but they aren't willing to make this work). This can be quite damaging to employee trust in their leadership.

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