It’s always amazing when someone discovers the best way to get good behavior out of people is the pay them to do it. This time, it’s the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and they’ve learned that you can actually get people to stop speeding if you pay them to do it.
Shocking right? As the link above points out, there’s basically no other way. The threat of wrecking or death doesn’t deter enough people. The threat of being caught by police or traffic cameras still isn’t enough. We don’t value our lives or the possibility of being caught. But if you give us $25 and promise to take it away if we speed we all of a sudden become great drivers.
Retail environments and manufacturing facilities struggle with the same thing. So we pay for performance. Either in the form of commissions or efficiency incentives and the like. Essentially, they are paid for doing what the managers want them to do. But even then, they won’t do a great job or you won’t be able to find enough good help for what you’re willing to pay.
Some are motivated enough by money, but they will only do the things that are directly related to money. Good luck getting your star salesman to be a team player or respect their manager. They don’t see the value. But there is one way to get top performance, in all areas, all the time.
Real-time monitoring. Every study that points out people are well behaved when you pay them to be misses a key point. Just like the study above. While the fiscal rewards are a great incentive for behavior, it’s not the whole thing. The other big piece is the constant supervision.
In the speeding study drivers were given a GPS tracker that monitored their speed all the time. Why is that not the thing that got people to behave? I like to talk about incentives, but that doesn’t always mean money, at least directly.
You’d likely see a similar reduction in speeding if we all had real-time monitors and the punishment was jail or an increase in your insurance deductible. It’s not always directly monetary. Sometimes it’s monitary (my word).
This isn’t always practical of course. You can’t keep you 16 year old from having sex by watching them all the time. And for many, the threat of STDs, pregnancy, or clingy exes isn’t enough to deter everyone. You can’t pay them either but how can you be sure they aren’t doing it.
The point is that these studies claiming it’s all about monetary rewards aren’t giving enough credit to the real-time monitary elements implemented in a controlled study. These are likely impossible to implement in most cases, especially in a country built on freedom.