I often see businesses rewarding one behavior, whilst seeking an entirely different one. A Managing Director I worked for many years ago used to bang on about the long term the strategy, and values of the organisation, whilst beating (metaphorically) the daylights out of anyone who missed the monthly budget. Guess what people focused on.

When you align the rewards, and we are not just talking about money here, other things are usually more important, particularly recognition, with the desired outcomes, it is very powerful, but a misalignment is usually destructive.

When I trained my dog, I pushed on his bum and said “sit” when I wanted him to sit, and gave him a doggy biscuit when he sat. The desired outcome and the reward were aligned. Had I said sit, and given him a biscuit when he barked, the behavior outcome would have been different.

People are a bit more complicated that dogs, but you get the message.

The link will take you to a classic article from 1975, that relates stories of situations where one outcome is required, but the reward is for a different outcome. It is as valid today as it was in 1975, and I like the stories.