Some companies offer a merit money scheme, which is similar to trading on the stock exchange. In this case Merit Money is based on the profit and number of points of each team member, the value of which, can go up and down. It’s up to the employee to decide if they want to cash in their points, or wait for the value to go up.
You are not fighting to win a regular bonus, you control it, by being the best you can be, in more ways than one: your attitude, contribution, ideas, creativity, etc.
Back to our Merit Money experiment: After Month One, I got to see just how motivating the scheme was. Looking back to the beginning of the month I admit I was skeptical. Merit Money was presented to me in one of my first interviews with Happy Melly. I was attempting, in a roundabout way, to ask about salary. The wonderful Lisette Sutherland, told me, “We work with a merit scheme, where we pay in hugs”. Hugs? I thought. Hey I love the Happy Melly project, but heck, I don’t work for hugs. I need to pay bills and eat.
Lisette reassured me that hugs converted to cash, but I still didn’t really see the value until the end of month one. Actually we decided to change the currency of hugs to something less sentimental. Still undecided; for now, we’re just calling them points. When I sat down to share out 100 points, I understood just how cool Merit Money is. It compels you to revisit the work and contribution of each of your team members and evaluate your experience working with them.
We use IDoneThis to update our daily work, so I was able to revisit the calendar month to check out what my teammates had been up to. We shared out our points and wrote a single line statement on how we felt each person contributed during the month. It’s great giving, but it’s also really cool getting to see how others perceive your contribution. Positive or not, it motivates you to do better. To be better. Working as a remote team, the exercise helps us to visualize what team members are doing in other countries.
Each month, you can change why you distribute points. It doesn’t have to be on overall performance. As Jurgen Appelo said to me, “Each month I change the question. The first month was: Did they impress me with their involvement on the new team?. In February it will be different. But being specific about the criteria, helps to better notice things. It’s like the difference between, what do you see around you? versus, what do you see around you that is blue?”
Merit Money was new to some of my other teammates and I was curious to get their reaction after the first month.
Jennifer Riggins, our content marketeer, told me: “I was a little nervous before I did it but then I just went with my gut for Merit Money. It helped that I got to explain everything clearly to each member for why I gave them how much money. Plus it REALLY helped that our accounting team member had created a spreadsheet that did the 100 points and all the math for me. Merit Money is also a great way to make sure everyone knows how accountable they are and what people perceive of their contribution. It assures that we all work on our communication skills, making sure everyone knows what we were doing.”
Our video guru Nicolas de Vicq, was also skeptical: “My first experience with merit money has been a challenge. Firstly, because I took it as a strong responsibility to translate my personal feedback into credits and secondly because receiving credits from others or not, is an incredible way to see and measure how people value your contribution in the team. A strong kick to get to know team members better and to deliver my best value!”
Lisette Sutherland, who’s been working with Merit Money for a while now, commented: The challenge for me with merit money is giving useful feedback that lets my colleagues know what I appreciate about their work.
My goal is to build trust and create cohesion on the team. In addition to using iDoneThis to go back and look at the work that was done during the month, I keep my own notes. When someone goes out of their way to help me (like attending my webinars and workshops), I write it down. And when I feel I don’t know what someone is doing – I let them know. It’s also a good flag for me to reach out more often (instead of relying on them to keep me updated).”
First month. And I’m convinced that Merit Money is one experiment that is going to bring our flexible working team closer together. And create happy, positive working experiences.