You can recognize the importance of teamwork while also encouraging individual creativity and performance with these tips.

No matter how hard you press your company to adopt agile innovation, if you hang on to the old and standard company bonus and incentive model, you may enable your company to gravitate right back to where it started. Revamping your company’s bonus and incentive structure is another important part of the transition.

The Difference between Incentives and Bonuses

There is a definite difference between incentives and bonuses that we must look at in order to fully grasp how you should reward your agile innovation team. An incentive is a reward administered to an individual or team for reaching a specific goal. Incentives are offered ahead of time and are meant to encourage behavior in certain ways. A bonus, on the other hand, is announced and given once something is actually accomplished. Although both incentives and bonuses are rewards, an incentive is announced in advance while a bonus is granted after the results are achieved.

How Bonuses and Incentives May Work Against Agile Innovation

Some bonuses and incentives can produce troublesome outcomes – especially when your company is working its way towards agile business innovation.  Rewards that single out individual performers actually discourage teamwork, which is counterproductive and may hamper your innovation and co-creation efforts.

Rewarding an Agile Innovation Team

The most important thing to consider when it comes to encouraging teamwork as opposed to individual performance is that the majority of rewards should be given to everyone on the team – in the form of incentives and bonuses. Not to say that individual rewards have no place in your innovation program, but it is often recommended that individual rewards are designed to be smaller in comparison to team rewards.

For example, for an individual reward,  participants in your innovation program can earn reward points and badges that they can accumulate based on their level of activity. These rewards and badges can then be used to purchase various items such as gift cards, electronic equipment or even travel vouchers.  

Rewards do not always have to be monetary. Another way you can do wonders in terms of encouraging your company is by sending an email thanking a team member for a special way they have contributed to your company’s business innovation project.

Another great way to reward your business innovation team is by way of time. Offer your team a couple of days off if they can achieve a specific breakthrough or intended outcome. If you do not want to offer any time off, you could instead allow the winning team some time (a few days or a week) to spend on something of their own choosing. They can catch up on reading about emerging technologies, experiment with new concepts or anything else that will benefit them and your company.

If you want to spend a little money on your team but still have it go toward your business goals, offer everyone a book buying budget or one for online learning. You could also send them to an industry conference or allow them to choose a conference on their own to attend at some point during the current year.

Incentives and bonuses have a very important place in agile innovation teams, but they should be designed and selected carefully with plenty of forethought so that they aligned with your company’s objectives and place a strong emphasis on teamwork that is characteristic of agile innovation teams. By thoughtfully rewarding your agile innovation team, both your team members and the organization as a whole will benefit from the teamwork and their achievements.