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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Disappointment in the Rewards

Something I have come to notice in my professional career, is the lack of thought that owners, managers, and leaders put into the rewards and surprises they create for their employees. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a burst of enthusiasm from a team that is striving to impress the higher ups, only to feel like they received a slap in the face in return. How so? Simple. Those in charge of picking the rewards don’t put any thought into who they are rewarding. They go with what is cheapest, looked cool, or is just easy to obtain. Why should an employee strive for obtaining their goals if the reward promised isn’t something they would care to have? Let’s look at this, shall we.

Let’s say that I am told I could win a prize if I meet a certain goal. The prize isn’t defined. So my imagination can go wild with possibilities. Out of curiosity, I can push myself to meet or even exceed that goal that was set for me. But then the time comes when the prize is revealed. And suddenly I’m living the Clark Griswold moment from Christmas Vacation. “It's a one year membership to the Jelly of the Month Club.” Suddenly I’m questioning whether my efforts were worth giving. According to International Best Seller, Mark Villareal, you should always give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. You aren’t just working for the company, but for God. But should I push myself above their expectations? I’m going to be paid the same amount either way. Why should I give extra effort for something I have no interest in?

Think about the people you have to encourage. What are their goals? What do they like? Recently, my department was offered prizes to the best performers based upon their goals. If their goals were met, tickets to a Spurs game could be theirs. In San Antonio, lots of people are Spurs fans. I’m not a sports fan, let alone a Spurs fan. I could care less. I don’t feel the need strive for higher. Not for myself. Now, because I do respect my supervisor and know she would like them, I don’t mind attempting to get us to our goal so that she can get the tickets. It won’t benefit me.

It is true that if you try to please everyone, you end up not pleasing anyone. So where is the median to this conundrum? For our department, they have ongoing contests monthly. Having multiple rewards available gives more incentive than if there is a single prize to be won. It makes everyone want to participate. Heck, cash bonus’ works for every employee. Who doesn’t need extra money? Or want it? Gift cards to places that you know everyone could use. None of us here are made of money. As a matter of a fact, in a kickoff meeting for this year, almost everyone that was asked by the owner, “What are your goals for this year?” answered with, “Get out of debt.” That ought to say something.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like getting something I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford on my salary. Tickets to events can be fantastic for people who live paycheck to paycheck. A chance to sit back and enjoy life on someone else’s dime. But, personally, I’m also very conscious of life and the things that it requires. I have bills. I have kids. I can’t go out whenever I please. I still have 3 tickets to see the latest Star Wars movie with from Christmas. The Star Wars nerd, holding tickets…. They are burning holes in my pockets. But I digress.

I think leadership should consider these things a little more before they randomly start contests. You really want your employees to feel appreciated? Get to know them. Be sincere. Be genuinely interested in their lives, in their personal goals, their dreams. If you are going to spend money, spend it on things they can receive wholeheartedly. 

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