Rewarding staff or children for good behaviour or great performance is in every leaders (or parent) toolbox. The challenge for all of us is when to reward and for what. Not all staff have the same knowledge and capabilities. Hence rewarding one person for coming up with a brilliant solution for an issue that bugged you for a while is good. Expecting the same from a freshman is setting a target that is unlikely to be achievable. Although the 2 examples show us two different situations where rewards work, there is the adhoc opportunity when the person did something fantastic and it was unexpected. The more common situation is you set a target or objective and the person achieved it.
The former cannot be planned for. When it happens, you as a leader need to be prepared for it. Acknowledge the achievement and reward it immediately. Make sure the reward is in relation to the challenge and in line with your organisations standard rules.
Motivation and Rewards
The latter is a common practice using a motivation and reward strategy. Let’s look at an 8 step model that I picked up many years ago:
- Set the goal – it is important that the goal is agreed by both. Having an objective that both parties want to see solved, makes it much more likely to be successful.
- Make it achievable – A goal that attracts a reward must be a stretch. Having a goal that can be done in your sleep is not worth it. The same applies for an objective that is out of reach. It is not fun setting someone up for failure. Keep the objective in reach taking into considerations the persons capabilities.
- Measure it – Both of you want to know if and when it’s been done. You may also want to know how well it has been achieved. The old quality saying, “what gets measured, gets done” applies here, too.
- Keep it simple – Some goals are so complex, it’s very hard to say if they have been achieved or not. They consists of many elements and then some are completed while others wait for third party events to fall into place. This would be a bad selected objective. Make it one simple goal that is either achieved or not. Avoid the items where something in between is a possible outcome. You will only end up in dispute if the objective has been achieved and the whole purpose of motivating the person is gone through the window.
- Recognise immediatley – Very similar to the unexpected situation, you need to be prepared to acknowledge and reward the achievement. Don’t wait to the agreed review date if the person done it 2 days earlier. Stand up, call in who needs to and can be there, and recognise the achievement.
- Include everyone – Everyone in your team must have a goal. Everyone in the team must be called in when any goal has been achieved. Don’t make it a silent event. Be proud of your staff and let everybody know.
- Reward superior performance – Most people will be happy that they have achieved what they set out to do. And that is fine. Some people will try to make it super special. They like and strive on such challenges. They are likely star performers. It’s quite alright to have a special reward for such an achievement. Make sure when you give out that reward, it is at the end and it takes into account each person’s capability and what they achieved.
- Follow up – Now, when I said at the end before, I mean all objective deadlines have come and past. It doesn’t mean people stop working on their tasks. Hence, it is important you follow up on each item and make sure it becomes sticky. As a leader you have 2 objectives with this, you want to motivate your staff, create a challenging environment, but you also want your department’s outcomes to be well achieved including creating a persistent change.
What do you think?