Ayn Rand argues that rather than being the root of all evil, money represents the greatest good. It is the manifestation of production, creativity, and competency. However we don’t always apply this philosophy of money to our compensation methods in the workplace. Incorporating incentives into your compensation practices are an ideal way to implement these principles. Here are four examples of how incentive plants support Ayn Rand’s love of money.
1) “Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value…Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort.”
At its root, money symbolizes trading value for value. Incentive plans are a tool that reward for results.Incentive plans reward individuals for the products of their mind and efforts.
2) “Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return…[Money] demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find.”
Employees obtain for their goods and labor what it is worth to their managers. Incentive plans allow managers to voluntarily decide what they are willing to pay for employee results. Setting a good incentive plan is buying the best money can offer. Incentives assess the value of the outcome and set a price for the achievement.
3) “Money permits no deals except those of mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders.”
Rand tells the story of Atlas who is condemned to carrying the world on his shoulders. Companies are not entities of burden, created to carry the weight of its employees’ weaknesses and misery. Incentives force people to work for their own benefit and gain. This way, there is a mutual benefit, a fair exchange. Employees produce and managers pay. The common bond within the company is the exchange of goods, not the exchange of suffering. Incentives pay employees when they produce excellence. It is not sympathetic payment based on need—you show up every day and turn on your computer so here is a bonus. It is not about carrying employees on your back. Incentives instill an environment of thriving and reward.
4) “When men live by trade–with reason, not force, as their final arbiter–it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability–and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward.”
Incentives allow excellence to triumph. The more an employee achieves, the more he is paid. Incentives pay for product, performance, judgment and ability. They instill values of competency. Incentives reward employees for the productivity they work towards every day of the year. The most productive employees are rewarded more and recognized for their efforts.
Rand outlines these points as the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Incentive plans implement that code.
Rand loves money. I agree, in the sense that I love what it represents.
Money is rooted in man’s mind and greatest achievements. Look at the computer through which you are reading this, the building you are sitting in. All this is the result of man’s mind. All the goods produced are manifestations of the power within us, of our efforts and our abilities and our competencies. Money is the tool through which we value these efforts, abilities and competencies and trade them amongst each other.
All the money that exists or has ever existed is a way to fairly trade these products. We accept money in payment for our efforts only because we know we can exchange it for the product of the efforts of others.
“[Those pieces of paper] are a token of honor–your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money.”
Let incentive plans enforce that moral principle of value for value. Let money be a moral tool—let it represent man’s ability to be productive. Honor your employees with money for their efforts. Ensure a fair trade by paying for value. Motivate your employees and reward excellence.
GUEST BLOGGER -- Andie Romanoff is a Consultant with Romanoff Consulting. She recently joined the firm after graduating from University of California Berkeley with a B.A. in Philosophy. Andie brings to her job a fascination with business culture, team-building, leadership development, and employee motivation. She will be taking over responsibility for marketing, selling and managing Incentive Plan Builder, our on-line incentive design tool