I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Everybody needs recognition and motivation, and these are inevitably tied into rewards and repercussions. When we can reinforce team members’ positive behavior with rewards, no matter how small, they feel appreciated, and everyone performs better. Sure, we all make bad judgment calls sometimes, and negative behavior has consequences. But we learn from our mistakes and see how to achieve our desired results next time. Just make sure the consequence doesn’t come at the expense of anyone’s confidence or attitude.
Be creative with your company’s reward system, and phenomenal results will follow. Dave, a call center manager we know, gives his team members a balloon every time they make a sale. Everybody on Dave’s team takes pride and accomplishment in seeing all the balloons pile up. But the incentive isn’t the balloons themselves, it’s what they symbolize: the outward recognition of their accomplishments.
Of course, not every employee in every company is so easily pleased. We know a manager who tried a similar playful reward system using toys from the kiddie TV show Bob the Builder as incentives, trying to make Bob’s catchphrase a rallying cry: “Can we build it? Yes, we can.” But instead of being charmed and inspired, the employees resented it, finding it hokey and demeaning, feeling treated like children. A reward system only works when managers truly embrace it, perceiving and emphasizing the underlying message and the value of recognizing employees and their good work. Find out what kind of rewards would be truly meaningful to your employees. They might appreciate gift cards from popular stores, or perhaps something of value to their families, like a free trip to a theme park or a donation to their children’s college fund.