The Science Behind Tyrod Taylor’s Pay for Performance Contract

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Tyrod Taylor

*Article by Joan Graci originally published on LinkedIn Pulse*

As an individual who prescribes to neuroleadership coaching, I couldn’t dream of a more powerful example for leaders to follow than the contract extension of Tyrod Taylor — the “quick on his feet” starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. This finely crafted contract is the perfect balance of new age employee -to- employer relationships. Although many organizations still align to the misguided belief that money is the reason people go to work, the science strongly suggests otherwise.

It could be argued that the Buffalo bills are just being cautious based on previous bad investments at the quarterback position, but I see a beautifully crafted example of organizational motivators. They did their research, and in turn, aligned an individual’s personal motivators to a pay-for-performance model. It’s a true dopamine cocktail. Sure, Tyrod got a chunk of change as a base salary, but he had no problem accepting a large amount of his contract at risk.

What the Bills did scientifically correct

The coaching staff observed that while Tyrod did enjoy the sentiment of a pay increase, he was still the type of player who would work hard to achieve team goals. It wasn’t just about the paycheck. So, they capitalized on this knowledge, and put together a package that appealed to basic human instinct:

1) Purpose – The incentive package that was created aligned with a desire for Tyrod to accomplish something bigger than himself. Accepting a smaller base salary, with a high “at risk,” proved to his team that he was in it for the right reason.

2) Personal growth – This is a crucial area that we find many companies under perform in. Unlike most organizations who utilize a “moving target” that defines success, the Bills put together clear and concise goals that aligned to the teams interpretation of progress. (This assumes that companies have taken the necessary time to define a measurement for success in the first place)

The truth is, people are incredibly motivated by learning and progressing in a way that is measured. It helps them realize their growth. The brain responds better to small incremental goals that work in tandem with how compensation increases.

3) Creating mastery –  If a person is lucky enough to find their passion, there’s no better feeling than being great at it. Tyrod recognizes that he needs to improve and is motivated by the challenge to be great. The brain derives great pleasure from achieving its definition of success, and through appropriate landmarks and autonomy, can realize these successes.

4) Reframing work – We’ve all heard the saying, “find your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, the Bills organization has created a culture Tyrod Taylor wants to be part of, and, for this talented quarterback, have shifted the thought process from work to passion.

So, it’s important for the leaders out there to understand that having talent on your team is one thing… understanding how to bring out the best in your people is another. That dives into the science behind it all! In conclusion, I’ll leave you with the following questions:

How does your team score?
How does your organization score? 

I would love to hear your comments on this below.


Curious if your landmarks for success make brain-based sense? Email me and we’ll put yours to the test!

Email: joan@apasolutions

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You can find this and more from Joan Graci on LinkedIn Pulse! Recent Blogs: