Tag Archives: rewarding behavior

Rewards & Recognition Part 2: Strategy

Our previous post noted  that a Rewards & Recognition program is an important component of a comprehensive engagement plan, and that there are different approaches or “reasons” to implement the practice.

During discussions with our Partners in Improvement  groups details associated with each of three distinct strategies for implementing a rewards and recognition program  were summarized as follows:

Strategy #1: To Increase Commitment and ‘Team Spirit”
Service awards are an example of recognizing people in order to strengthen the commitment to and satisfaction with their jobs.

Many organizations announce service anniversaries and offer public congratulations and appreciation. In some cases a paper certificate is ceremoniously handed to the individual. Some organizations award gifts of increasing value for milestone anniversaries, such as 5 year, 10 year, 20 year anniversaries. Gifts bearing the company logo were also intended to increase association with and commitment to the organization.

Strategy #2: To Increase Certain Behaviors or Accomplishments
A good deal of our discussion of rewards and recognition focused on ways that were intended to reinforce behavior that the organization wants to see more of.

For example, the CEO of a global engineering corporation with 8,200 employees has made a practice of sending a personal thank you to people who have really contributed to process improvement, with a “cc” to the person’s supervisor. These notes are highly valued. Similarly, the CEO of a defense contractor also described how powerfully motivational a simple thank you can be. He was walking through one of his manufacturing plants and saw the operator of a machine that was under repair, cleaning the machine. He stopped to thank her, saying he really appreciated her effort because he would like the work place to be cleaner. The comment was so motivational that when he walked back
through several hours later, long after the repairman had left and the machine was functional again, she was still cleaning the machine.

Another organization has instituted a ‘Six Star’ program to recognize and reward people for giving excellent service.
Customers and employees can award ‘stars’ for service that they feel deserves recognition. Once employees receive six
such stars they are given a fifty dollar gift certificate. Another Partner described a high five on-line recognition, with a “cc”
to the Director. If the Director saw an accomplishment that was especially good, he or she could promote it into a “Round of
Applause” that would involve a gift.

Strategy #3: To Achieve Better (Measurable) Results
Some organizations used rewards to encourage extra effort to achieve specific goals.

Examples included a one year lease on a BMW that was awarded to the store manager with the best results, and a $20,000 President’s award that was given to the employee who generated the most profitable business.

At another organization, an additional one-week vacation was given to the employee who was deemed to have done the most for the organization in the previous year.

While each of these was awarded to an individual, the intent was to motivate many people to compete for the award. The assumption is that an unusual and substantial reward will inspire people to try and outdo one another in order to win — thereby increasing the results produced by all those who failed to win as well as the winner. These rewards rely on publicity and  extravagance to generate enough interest to get everyone trying to win.

But strategies, goals and objectives do not always translate into the desired results. In fact, some rewards and recognition programs produced unintended consequences, which we’ll discuss in our next post.

Rewards & Recognition – Part 1: Variation

We recently attended the “Engagement World” expo in Galveston, Texas, at which all aspects of enterprise engagement were discussed including ISO 10018 and  standardized engagement plans.

Simply stated, to be truly effective, an engagement plan must contain certain elements, including a method for rewarding and recognizing  desired behaviors and outcomes.

This fact was spelled-out in a prior post, noting that Rewards & Recognition is an important component of a comprehensive engagement plan. In addition, our Partners in Improvement discussed this fact, and shared some interesting insights regarding various ways of recognizing and rewarding people, and the variation in results.

For example,  some, like a service award, are very predictable; if you reach an anniversary, you are likely to receive one. But many other recognition programs include an element of surprise when exceptional service is spotted.

Some rewards cost the organization little or nothing — such as a thank you note or a special parking place. Others are quite costly, such as a one year lease on a car, or an upscale ‘President’s Award.’

Some are for teams, and others are for individuals. Many of the rewards and recognition are after the fact, while some are announced and hyped in advance in order to encourage people to try for them.

The amazing variety allowed us to explore the benefits and unexpected drawbacks of the different types of rewards and recognition. But despite the variety of implementations, the objectives were really quite simple. An organization implements a reward and recognition program for one of these three reasons:

  1. To increase the recipient’s satisfaction and happiness with the organization and his or her role within it
  2. To motivate continuation of certain types of behaviors and accomplishments
  3. To motivate people to work to achieve certain measurable results

We’ll take a closer look at these differing approaches in our next few posts, and share some surprising data points regarding outcomes and predictability.

Encouraging Your Team

motivation2As business leaders, project managers, and CI leaders endeavor to manage,  motivate, and engage their teams,  many incorporate some form of a rewards and recognition program.

Among the key objectives of doing so are gaining increased commitment or greater discretionary effort from the team, promoting desired behaviors, or achieving specifically measurable results.

Regardless of objective, during a best practices exchange by a group of CI and business leaders it was agreed that recognizing and rewarding employees has a strong impact on sustainable behavior and results — a perspective that aligns with the findings of numerous studies; or, as summarized by one of the participants, “People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.” (Unknown)

The group also  indicated the following criteria would yield the best results when creating and implementing a rewards and recognition strategy:

  • Keep it simple: one of the most cost effective methods of all seemed to be the simple thank you note.
  • Extrinsic rewards programs require clear metrics, auditing, and mindful design to ensure a focus on the rewarded metrics will not lead to deterioration of teamwork or other facets of the organization due to things such as jealousy or resentment.
  • Be specific: it is much more effective to recognize a team or a person for a specific result or accomplishment than for generally “doing a good job.”
  • Be timely: the closer in time the reward or recognition is to the accomplishment being recognized, the more impact it will have
  • Communicate widely: Publicity helps extend the celebration and communicates widely what is valued by the organization. Similarly, the way in which rewards are presented has a significant impact on how recipients value their rewards. Make a splash! And DO involve organizational leaders in the presentation.
  • Be consistent: Be sure that you respond to comparable accomplishments in comparable ways.
  • Be authentic: Sincerity in words of appreciation and praise are essential to an effective system of reward and recognition.
  • Use team rewards to encourage better organization-wide results.