A few weeks ago, I wrote about how much I dislike dealing with organizations that cause me friction. An airline puts me on hold for 30 minutes, quotes one price and 30 seconds later tells me that the fare is gone, so youll have to pay another $100. An organization offers one-day service, and then when I show up with my business document, I learn that one day means, drop off your document and come pick it up the next day during these hours that are convenient for us, not you. OK, so maybe I confused one day and same day. Ill never do that again, to be sure. Still, its a hassle for me as the consumer.
Friction. Not fun.
Alas, friction happens within organizations as well, even within teams of people. Youve probably dealt with it, and so have I. Often we just whisper or complain about it.
But one organization has developed an approach that deliberately tries to reduce friction. It has gone so far in the attempt to lower friction that the effort comes into its compensation plan.
The company is in the fast moving high-tech world and is growing like crazy. In the past three years, it has more than tripled its employee base, and it doesnt look like the end is anywhere in sight. Bringing new people into the organization, getting them up to speed fast and being sure that they work well with others is critical if the firm is to succeed. So the top managers have developed an idea they call net contribution to assess how well an employee performs but also what level of hassle or friction the employee adds.
At review time, the senior leaders ask team members to evaluate a person three ways (the manager does it, too). First, whats the employees performance and contribution in the job for which she was hired? Thats one that we all know and understand and do already as managers.
But the next two questions are a little different.
Second, whats the employees performance and contribution above and beyond the job description? For example, does the employee help out in areas beyond her job? Does the employee take on new tasks willingly, even if they arent directly part of her job? Does the employee try to do things that benefit the whole company, not just that person or his specific area?
Finally, whats the friction or hassle associated with this employee? Is it someone whos frequently causing lots of drama or headaches to team members, the manager or the company at large? If the employee drags down others, causing friction or hassle, that friction is considered in the total review.
The formula would be something like this: Job Contribution + Above and Beyond Contribution Friction = Net Contribution.
Interestingly, as the senior manager says, if you plot contribution against salary, they should be (and are) correlated. So if someone is above the line (too much friction) or below (more contribution), the company adjusts pay.
Think about what your own Net Contribution or that of your employees or teammates might be. If you could reduce the friction to zero, just imagine how far a company or team or individual could go.
Heres the catchy formula: JC + ABC - F = NC.
NANCY NAPIER: Executive director for Boise States Centre for Creativity and Innovation. Contact her at email@example.com.