Back in January 2013 Mint made the business section of the Sunday Times for its groundbreaking employee bonus pool where 50% of each person’s annual bonus was determined by their colleagues.
Fast forward to January 2018 and we were having a discussion about paying bonuses for 2017 but we decided not to go with the crowdfunded model and it felt right. So why did the company that first introduced the world to the crowdsourced bonus subsequently veer away from it?
Who is the arbiter of good performance?
The main rationale behind the crowdsourced bonus was that the management team at Mint is not the arbiter of performance.
But what I’ve learned is that they are the arbiters of performance. A member of the leadership team has access to more information than anyone else in the organisation with which to assess the extent to which someone is doing a good job including that person’s colleagues feelings about their performance. A good manager aggregates this information and makes an assessment. If the manager continuously gets this wrong then the best performers will leave and the manager will fail. Bonuses not fairly distributed? Blame the managers, not the game.
But it’s fun right?
Wrong! It’s not fun like a really good night out is fun, it’s probably more novel than fun.
But doesn’t it make Mint an interesting place to work?
It does in the sense that it makes Mint an unusual and newsworthy place to work but my goal is to make Mint a great place to work. Mint blazed a trail when it comes to employee benefits - we’ve even had HR gurus write about us in books. But it’s a mistake to confuse novel with good. I’m convinced that a large percentage of employee benefit offers these days are marketing ploys dressed up as HR policies. Setting your own salary and choosing how much holiday you have are very interesting but they don’t automatically translate to a great place to work. Beware the manager that uses these tools as a proxy for culture or to entice people to a company that is otherwise undesirable.