#5 of 8 from "If Disney Ran Your Hospital" (by Fred Lee): How do you motivate and reward compassion?

If Disney Ran Your Hospital, they would motivate employees through the mission of the hospital, not the amount on their paycheck.

Disney doesn't utilize pay-for-performance. Nor do they utilize a "forced" curve where a certain percentage of workers get higher raises than others. In environments where teamwork and lateral relationships are instrumental for success, such incentive structures don't work - and even more, they are destructive and demotivating.

I'm sure many people are familiar with the infamous, secretive "hazing" that goes on at college fraternities across the nation. Essentially, a group of new freshman eager to join the fraternity have to do some unconventional "things" to prove their loyalty and unity to the fraternity.

Though those involved are sworn to secrecy, stories abound - 10 guys stuck in a bathroom and can't come up until they finish 10 cases of beer, people swallowing live goldfish, etc.

Back in college, I thought these things were simply foolish. I understood the value of unity, but why couldn't they build unity while doing something constructive. Why couldn't they go out as a team and build a house with Habitat for Humanity?

Now I understand - to do something constructive would defeat the very purpose of the hazing. The new group had to be so sincere about joining the fraternity that they would do these things in which the only incentive to do so is to prove loyalty and commitment. If the activity had any other extrinsic motivation (like helping the community), it would defeat the purpose!

Lee also gives some good examples of this.

THE OVERZEALOUS MANAGER: One manager wanted to encourage her employees to write "letters of appreciation" to other employees in the group. Very few people actually did, so she decided to provide some incentive - for every letter, the writer would get a Pepsi. You can imagine what happens next - Not surprisingly, she yanked the whole thing a week later - $50 poorer and no one taking any letter seriously.

OLD MAN STOPS INSULTS FROM KIDS BY PAYING THEM TO INSULT HIM: I absolutely love this story, and you'll find it on page 179 in Fred Lee's book. It basically goes like this. Kids insult old man. Old man ignores them. Day after day, kids keep insulting old man. Old man decides to pay kids a quarter for each insult. The next day, tons of kids come and insult. The next day, old man says, "too many kids. now I can only pay you a penny for each insult." Kids go away insulted and stop insulting old man for good.

What a perfect illustration for how extrinic motivations can derail intrinsic motivations!

There's a fine line here. Obviously we are to be careful how we reward "compassion." We want to avoid the situation where people do compassionate things in hopes of the reward while their real sense of compassion is no where to be found. On the other side of the coin, we also want to recognize those who display compassion sincerely and spontaneously. Just as the display of compassion is spontaneous and not required/expected, so should the recognition be. Indeed, it's a fine line...

8-Part Series on "If Disney Ran Your Hospital"

The 8 Big Impact Ideas from “If Disney Ran Your Hospital”
1. Perceptions > Reality
2. Courtesy > Efficiency
3. Patient Loyalty > Patient Satisfaction
4. Experience > Service > Product
5. Intrinsic Motivation > Extrinsic Motivation
6. Habit > Imagination > Willpower > Compliance
7. Dissatisfaction > Complacency
8. Doing > Knowing

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