Rewards Sabotage Teamwork

bad teamwork

I’ve long-asserted that rewards are counter-intuitive. A friend told me the following story that illustrates how rewards also sabotage teamwork. My friend was chatting with a man who coaches sports teams of 8 and 9-year-olds. He mentioned that he had a lot of difficulty this year in getting the kids to work together as a team.

My friend, an experienced primary teacher, started to offer some suggestions that she had found successful for developing an atmosphere of teamwork in her classroom. But the gentleman quickly stopped her.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” he said. “It’s not the kids who are the problem; it’s the parents! The parents have all told their kids that they would get money for every goal they score. The kids are so intent on getting a point ON THEIR OWN that I can’t get them to pass to each other; it doesn’t matter what I do. It’s so bad I even had to hold a special meeting to say to the parents, ‘Stop paying your kids, so I can create a team!’”

Apparently, it’s not just teachers using the Discipline Without Stress methodology who see the negative impact of rewarding. Coaches, too, are having their share of problems.

Rewards change motivation. It’s as simple as that!

What negative consequences of rewards have you observed? Share your comments below or on the Without Stress Facebook page.


Teaching, parenting, and simply living can be stressful at times. That’s why I wrote my newest book Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. If you’re looking for stress management advice, check it out. The book is available as a print book (Buy one and get a second copy free to give as a gift), as an eBook, and as an audio book at