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The good and the bad of keeping score at work



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Human resources is an idustry filled with the observation, analysis, and attempted prediction of people’s feelings and behaviour. HR professionals spend at least some of their days trying to better understand their staff’s inner workings and desires, so that they can implement policies that bring out the best in them.

Of course, similar to any field in which human behaviour is the subject, not everyone always agrees on how to tackle certain behaviours, or which policies will yield the desired results. Recently, two career experts proved just that when they took to the internet to talk about keeping score at work, and gave out completely opposite advice. Since it’s always good to have all the information Human Resources magazine has set out both their arguments below.

The good

According to Forbes contributor Kaytie Zimmerman, keeping score at work is a great way to motivate your employees. When it comes to Millennials, it might even be the only way, she writes.

Zimmerman points out that Millennials have grown up with and are accustomed to a constant stream of instant feedback. The success of posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be immediately measured through the amount of likes, shares, and comments.

To better cater to these employees, employers should extend instant feedback into the workplace by keeping score. She writes: “It’s necessary for employers to incorporate some way of measuring Millennial employees that can be viewed instantly and give them a sense of where they stand.”

According to Zimmerman’s reasoning, introducing some form of scoreboard into your office environment will result in engaged and motivated employees. “When a running scoreboard is kept of an employee’s efforts, self-correction often occurs. If someone sees they are ‘losing’, they are motivated to pick it up.”

The bad

PayScale contributor Gina Belli couldn’t agree less. “In general, comparing ourselves to others makes us unhappy, and keeping score at work is an ugly manifestation of that”, she writes in her post.

According to Belli, constant and public comparison of employees’ contributions can be particularly harmful when it comes to teams. She points out that the best teams are built on trust and respect, and keeping score destroys those values by introducing a quid pro quo element.

“A score-keeping mindset impacts your relationships, be they professional or personal, in negative ways. Instead, when you contribute without expectations or conditions, you’re not only coming from the right place, you’ll also inspire others to follow your lead”, Belli writes.

The conclusion

Although measuring people’s performance is a natural part of work, and peer-to-peer comparison is often used during performance reviews, the question is whether such a comparison should occur publicly. Since every team within every company is different, chances are the answer isn’t always the same. As such, it’s up to the manager to get to know their team and figure out whether keeping score is going to help or hurt.

ALSO READ: Why aren’t bosses providing staff feedback?

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