[Wikimedia-l] Compromise?

ENWP Pine deyntestiss at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 7 05:58:43 UTC 2013


Is there evidence that WMF has a worrisome "talent retention problem"? Gayle seems to think that the answer is generally no. If there is evidence to the contrary that has more weight than anecdotal Glassdoor reviews, I would be interested in seeing that evidence.

I would distinguish between motivation and performance. Highly motivated people may perform poorly and/or perform in ways that are inconsistent with the organization's interests. Consider the cases of financial professionals who were so highly motivated that they were willing to risk criminal prosecutions and serious harm or outright demise of their organizations. I get emails every week from the SEC and almost all of them seem to include announcements of legal actions brought by the SEC against people who were highly motivated and made decisions that are questionable at best. Also consider the case of someone who may be highly financially motivated to get a degree in engineering but lacks the math skills to do so. Very highly motivated people may be unable to achieve their performance objectives or may take significant, potentially illegal and unethical risks to achieve those objectives.

Looking mainly at the abstracts, I think the final study that you linked is the most relevant of the set to the discussion here. In that case a financial incentive was added in addition to whatever other incentives already existed for the reviewers to complete their work. But I would argue that "doing the same work faster" is more analogous to the rule-based work, rather than the creative work, discussed in the video that Erik linked. 

I am not opposed to WMF offering performance bonuses - money, recognition, PTO, greater discretion, conferences, training, desirable assignments - but in general I think you seem to be overstating the nature of WMF's issues with retaining personnel. Also, I would distinguish between incentives to perform and incentives to remain with the organization. 

On the accountability side, I do think that there's room for improvement, and the employee survey data seem to agree with that. I support the consideration of making personnel changes if important targets are not met or issues do not receive adequate responses. (I am currently concerned about the Board, as I have mentioned elsewhere). But that's a different issue than the alleged "talent retention problem" for paid staff.


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