Katherine Bond: Rewards derive from good performance

The worlds of high-performance sport and business are both obsessed with results, and there is often great reward that comes with producing great results.

For the Olympic athlete, the potential reward of an Olympic medal is a huge motivator and gives some interesting insights into human motivation and rewards.

Potential Olympians choose to put themselves forward for the ‘reward scheme’ that the International Olympic Committee created, and they choose to see if they have got what it takes to receive the reward. That is interesting when you think of other reward schemes designed to motivate people that result in people feeling entitled to get the reward.

Once the athletes have signed up for the scheme, they have to keep hitting qualification standards along the way to stay in it, so many athletes achieve enormous growth as a result of the possible reward, without ever actually getting to compete for it.

The ultimate reward is given to the person or team that has grown beyond all others and delivered their best when it matters most. So, the Olympics is ultimately a competition of preparation, growth and execution. The Olympics does not reward potential, it rewards the product of long-term development and repeated delivery of best practice.

A reward scheme in a business that promotes control, confidence and connectedness, is one that is hitting all the right notes of motivation and it is inevitably adding huge value to the growth and engagement of employees.

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So many reward schemes reduce motivation because the focus becomes about the reward and not about how to achieve the reward. With some fine-tuning of rewards you can think about the quality of the motivationyou are creating at work, not the quantity of people who you are working to motivate.

Dr Katherine Bond is performance expert at K2, chief executive officer of The Performance Room, and consultant performance psychologist for Paralympics GB