On Bonuses, Commissions and Motivation

Today I want to tackle a more sensitive subject: bonuses and commissions. The subject has intrigued me ever since I was asked to read some articles on how targets and commission work for my study in Sociology. As many others, I always thought a bonus motivates people and gets clear results, but the scientific articles I read showed a very different kind of truth. Over the years I have found more and more information on the subject and now I want to share a few of these sources with you.

The video at the top of this post is a must see for anyone interested in HR, motivation and/or commissions. But even if you don’t care about the way commissions work, it is still worth watching as it shows how people are motivated in a fun way.

Below are two links to articles which explain clearly how I personally feel about sales commissions. I won’t spend much words on summarizing the articles as they are well written and really worth reading.

The Sales Commission Dillemma

Why do we pay sales commissions?

How do we change the situation?

That’s how I think on commissions and motivation. The only thing I struggle with is the situation where an organization already has a commission system. Even though I believe that not having a commission system or bonus scheme is best for a company, I do not think it is always easy to get rid of a system once it is in place. Is it possible? Of course it is; but I think it is wise to look at your company and listen to what people want before you change anything in a sensitive subject like this.

I wrote this post to encourage people to take another look at the commission system and bonus scheme in their organization. Hopefully, somewhere in the future, we will all spend less time arguing about targets and commissions, and spend more time on actually being motivated and having a purpose.

Maybe we should put a commission on the amount of organizations one can convince to get rid of commissions? 😉