Pay for Performance Lessons from the Tour de France

Posted July 21 2014
In an article titled Pay for Performance Lessons from the Tour de France, author Dan Walter shares an analogy, relating the Tour de France compensation/recognition model to that of the corporate environment.  While the "winner" of the grueling race is the individual with the lowest total time at the end of the final stage, every rider is part of a team and no one rides alone.   The team leader is generally very good at multiple disciplines, while other team members may have specific skill sets that are important during different stages.  The riders are paid much like employees of most companies, receiving base pay, performance bonuses, etc.   The specialist riders have specific goals throughout the race, competing and being recognized for races within the race even as they help their teams.

This is very analogous to the common workplace.  Above and beyond compensation/recognition, much like the Tour riders have a common goal of winning the race and the glory that comes with it (agnostic of the compensation/rewards), it is critical that all employees understand and can relate to the company mission & goals.  Without this, and clear alignment between individual and organizational goals, having engaged, motivated, productive employees is difficult to attain.  

The pay for performance model in the Tour, as described by Dan, includes specific, clearly defined performance objectives throughout the race and within stages.  The key words here are 'specific' and 'clearly defined' - without these its terribly difficult for employees to understand and strive for performance.  Organizational leadership should take it upon themselves not only to define company performance objectives, but work with managers and employees to establish clearly defined, specific performance objectives that tie back to organizational objectives.  As Dan points out, rather than build an all or nothing environment where an individual must perform perfectly or be left by the roadside, establishing small wins provides a stronger platform for achievement and goal attainment.
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