By David Bowman

A client of mine recently rolled out a new bonus system that was designed to better align with the company’s risk/reward timing between performance and revenue. The new system changed the frequency of the payouts, but also provided everyone a way to make more money. The surprising result was that some team members were actually offended and questioned why leadership thought they would somehow try harder if offered a bigger incentive. Other team members wanted the old system back because it contained less of a delayed reward component (even though the company’s risk was higher). Leadership was willing to pay out more if things were aligned more closely to when their customers paid.

Have you ever been completely baffled by the unintended consequences of a seemingly benign and even well-intentioned decision that got a negative response instead of the positive response you predicted? These situations are often crushing because we’re usually excited about the anticipation of sharing something great.

In her book, The Human Team: So You Created a Team, but People Showed Up!, EOS Implementer® Jeanet Wade speaks to the balance between nature and nurture and the unintended behavioral consequences that occur when basic human needs are not met.

As leaders, managers, and messy humans, we don’t always recognize the imbalance that can occur for people when their needs aren’t met. We fail to understand how this imbalance is usually the root cause of employee disengagement or other unfortunate behaviors. Jeanet identifies six human needs that bridge the gap between our core Nature and what we do as leaders to Nurture others. Each of us has our own perspective of our needs and we often project our nature and how we want to be nurtured onto others. The goal is to ensure that your company’s culture and operating system align with the human needs of your people.

When I analyzed and then applied this framework to my own team performance, I realized that much of what I have done and seen in business relative to human performance has been centered around well-intentioned initiatives that focus on punishments and rewards.

We can balance individual Nature/Nurture needs by creating conditions that meet our own and others’ needs. EOS® provides the foundation for meeting our human needs through the tools we use:

  1. We provide Clarity through a shared vision (VTO™ ) and an IDS™ process. Everyone questions variables and inconsistencies and then creates actions such as To-dos and Rocks, which align our work with our shared vision.
  2. We create Connection through a Meeting Pulse™ that allows us to come together for the common good. Whole teams become connected to a Purpose/Cause/Passion that’s greater than any one person.
  3. We highlight Contribution through Scorecard measures, Rock completion, and To-dos.
  4. Challenges are created by the binary concept of “owning” seats that are constantly changing with each ceiling that we hit and overcome. We are challenged to keep up with the evolution of our seats.
  5. We Consider and are considerate when we do “Core-Value callouts” and hold Quarterly Conversations™ that help us work “on” our relationships with each other instead of just being “in” relationships based on work.
  6. We gain Confidence in ourselves and each other based on the drumbeat created by winning. EOS companies gain Traction® through winning and learning on micro/macro levels and through short- and long-term predicting.

So, the next time your leadership team is considering an initiative, ask yourself whether you’re enhancing your EOS tools to ensure people’s human needs are being met? Meeting human needs creates a cultural balance between Nature and Nurture and hopefully takes some of the guesswork out of your policy changes.