“Show Me the Money!”: Is Performance Related Pay Enough?

“Show me the money!”

Okay, let’s face it. We’ve all seen the movie. And rest assured if someone speaks those four words you’re almost always going to associate them with the film Jerry Maguire, specifically that one timeless scene.

You know the one where Jerry Maguire is talking on the phone to his client (up-and-coming, football star Rod Tidwell) and Rod tells Jerry to “show him the money”?

(Picture courtesy of TriStar Pictures)

Now that you’ve gotten a visual, maybe paused a moment to reminisce over this mid-90s classic or perhaps even yelled “show me the money!” a few times for good measure… No? Just me? Okay, let’s continue.

As much as I’m sure some people would love to step into their manager’s office and tell them to “show me the money!” – that’s probably not likely to happen. Truth is (and this might come as a surprise), it takes more than just money to keep employees motivated.

In fact, over the years studies have shown that merit pay does not necessarily lead to an increase in employee drive, and that in some cases it can even de-motivate rather than motivate.

Aliza Hoffman takes an interesting approach in a recent Wall Street Journal blog by comparing employees to students, and explains that there are three key factors that lead to better performance: autonomy, mastery and purpose. All three of these aspects can in turn be applied to managing talent. Most employees want to be self-sufficient, to be recognized for their contributions and most of all, they want to know their place and purpose within the organization they work for.

Pay for performance is still a crucial part of any talent management process. But rather than focusing exclusively on a “carrot and stick” system, (as Hoffman calls it), HR should center their efforts on the larger picture. Think of innovative ways to keep employees content and motivated, rather than simply handing them a review and a pay increase once a year. At the end of the day, it’s not always about money. It’s a combination of factors that keep an employee motivated and wanting to stick around. Tap into your talent, find out what they want, what keeps them on their toes, and execute on it!

Think back to that famous scene we all know and love. Before Rod Tidwell utters his famous line, Jerry asks him, “What can I do for you?” So here’s some food for thought:

Besides showing them the money, “What can you do for your employees?”

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