Usually it's an excuse or reason for not pairing. "If I improve my colleague, he will beat me to the incentives" or "if we do his work first, then there's a chance I'll fall behind." I'm not a fan of individual work assignments, and I'm not a fan of competitive incentives. Rather than rant about it, I'd like to point you to some other authors and how they feel about the topic:
- Daniel Pink suggests killing your performance ratings.
- InfoQ balanced comments pro and con individual rewards.
- Peter Scholtes says reviews are ineffective, even harmful and performance appraisal are incompatible.
- Esther Derby suggests ways to support team-based work and performance without appraisal. Twice.
- Samuel Culbert rips brutally on performance review.
- Deming quoted on the deadly disease of performance review, and personally critiquing American management in 1984.
What I am doing is asking that people consider what the science says. I've been on a couple of mind-bogglingly good teams in my life, and we didn't worry about forced ranking and annual reviews and how one of us might get more than their fair share. We just worked. When it's all about the work, we can be colleagues and friends and coworkers and good things can happen.
I have alternative views about career paths, and you can look there when you feel the urge.
Maybe I'm pining for some of my glory days, against my own best advice, but I would love to see people able to surpass the best working relationships I've seen personally. I don't think it's impossible, just impeded.