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Being at heart a researcher, I'm curious about the relationship between the success or failure of "viral pay" (where employees self-distribute rewards) and supervisory effectiveness. Bet there is an inverse relationship.

Agree with Laura's caveats.

In a well-managed enterprise where supervisors have strong people-skills and managers are highly trained in management, viral pay should be either a redundant overlay matching company choices or an unnecessary popularity contest. In the opposite kind of firm, it may be the only way those who carry all the weight are given any formal recognition and reward.

Bottom line: most workers don't know enough about the priority objectives or output results of all other performers to make a good comparative decision. And it is not their job or the task for which they are supposedly being paid, as it IS for supervisors. Maybe it is great for flat organizations with excellent group feedback mechanisms and no or little management oversight, though.

@Jim thanks for sharing your insights here. I agree managers are - or should be - better informed about how rewards support business objectives. I think you're onto something with your last line, i.e., this may work better in flat organizations with great communication and little formal oversight.

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