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Chapter 33. Quality by Increments > Rewards and Recognition

Rewards and Recognition

For quality to be a priority, people must be evaluated and rewarded for turning out quality work. But what do we reward? In software development, productivity, whether in function points or lines of code, is usually what gets the bonus or promotion or recognition, if anything. Or we reward herculean, last-ditch efforts to meet seemingly impossible deadlines. Ironically, in many companies it is in the best interests of project managers to ensure that all-out efforts are needed toward the end of a project. Such highly visible commitments are what is most likely to win approval whether the project succeeds or not. “Well, we lost the contract, but no one can fault Pete, who worked around the clock right up to the deadline.”

The problem is not that people don't care about quality, as some managers complain. One study of 11,000 people in six industries (by Brooks International in 1991) found that more than nine out of ten employees felt a personal responsibility for doing quality work. But seven out of ten reported that quality was not an important factor in how their work was evaluated. And a bare one out of four said that their management really rewarded improvements in quality. What do we reward, then? The truth is, recognition and rewards of any kind are a lot less frequent than most managers think. Some 80% of managers claim they give their subordinates sincere and thorough praise, but only one out of seven of their subordinates see it that way (Lickert 1989).


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