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IS THERE, OR SHOULD THERE BE “A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD”

Your stakes should depend on the difficulty of your turf

You must have come across people often saying – “reward for good work, is more work”. It is mostly true that CXOs and managers assign more/difficult work to those who are most competent. Unfortunately, when it comes to performance rating, growth, authority/ responsibility, rewards and recognition, invariably organisation policies impose certain parity restrictions between people. In such a situation your best people don’t get a sense of justice or fair play, adversely affecting the motivation of the people you value most.

Every human being goes through high and low phases – which affects energy level, engagement level and performance. In case of high achievers, such lows tend to be for a very brief period, as they know how to pull themselves out. If you observe low motivation levels for a sustained period, it is likely that there would be an underlying cause and a very common one is the one described above. If not tackled quickly, mediocrity will start setting in. Here are some steps you may want to consider.

  1. Work cannot be distributed equally in the business. Those who can will get to handle bigger and difficult tasks. Can there be any other way? As a leader (a) you need to maximise your talent usage (b) you must motivate the high achievers by giving them more/ bigger opportunities and challenges.
  2. Those with less capacity and drive should be given smaller tasks but on a relative basis equally challenging. This will ensure – everyone must strive hard and that this is the only way to ensure a level playing field. This is like playing against your handicap in golf.
  3. You need to differentiate high performers and achievers in terms of performance ratings, compensation and growth prospects. That is the only way to motivate those who carry most of the load and instil aspiration in others.

 

Further reading :

https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/is-a-level-playing-field-a-good-thing

https://www.strategy-business.com/blog/The-Five-Ways-Work-Isnt-a-Level-Playing-Field?gko=69150

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