“When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” (Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband)
When we think about rewards, most people think about pay rise or salary. Anyone who has encountered dog training* will know that the most important form of reward is praise and attention.
People are like dogs when it comes to rewards. Praise and attention are more important than pay rises and bonuses when it comes to changing behaviour. We all crave the praise and attention of those that are important to us. Our bosses are clearly important to our careers.
When a serious problem occurs on the system, our management will pay attention and we will be in the spotlight whilst we fix the problem. We get to show our best work whilst in a crisis. At the end we get praise. At the end of the year, management has lots of examples of good behaviour for the review process.
When we create a system that does not have serious problems, our management forget we exist. At the end of the year, management has hardly anything to say at the review process.
Can anyone see the problem?
* Inspired by Jerry Weinberg’s Keynote at the Agile Development Conference in Salt Lake City.