All entries for Monday 09 March 2009

March 09, 2009

Reward and recognition

An interesting discussion came up in today's seminar about reward and recognition. It seems that the idea that 'recognition' could be a better motivational tool than financial 'reward' is hard to accept by many people. They would ask "How can I expect to receive only a pat on the back after making a huge contribution to my company?". Well, my answer is " No you should expect more!". But not more money, then what?

One of the biggest problem with financial reward is that it is never enough. This idea has popped up many times during MBE classes. You give a child one piece of cake for good behavior, the next time he is going to come back and ask you for two, the next for three and so on ... Does this mean he is behaving well because he is a good kid and listen to his parent? or is he doing so to receive the cake from you? . One immediate concern is the diminished return, the more cake the child receives the less he would desire it. So giving cakes becomes less effective the more you gave. "Give him candy instead", you might say. Well, the same problem persist and you are just changing from one form of reward to another. This is exactly the problem with reward based performance management,companies comes up with ever more inventive creative bonus schemes... 5 day holiday in Hawaii, membership in a prestigious golf club... you focus worker's attention on the reward itself but not on the purpose of rewarding which is the fact that they are doing a good job for you

But imagine this, what if one day you exhaust all your creative reward ideas. Or worse, what if one day you run out of money, and you turn to your employee and say "Sorry mate, we are in a rut and I have nothing more to give you, but can you stay in the company? for old times sake?". Would it be a surprise if your employee, after telling you he's been head-hunted by a competitor firm, wave you 'Sa-yo-nara' and leave your office while leaving a 5 dollar note on your desk?

Imagine another scenario. Suppose you are an average worker. Your boss pays your by the going market rate, no more, no less. But your boss also care about his employees personally. I mean, he cares about your day, your worries in the family, or even goes to the trouble to talk to your about your future, and how you can make progress in your personal and life goals. One day a headhunter comes along , give you this 15% extra base pay and ask you to jump ship. Then you think... " Okay I know nothing about this new company, even though the pay is good, but how about the people? are they friendly? is my contribution going to be appreciated by others? most importantly am I going to be happy there?". You keep thinking and then you realise "But I am happy here! Why should I risk a good job, caring boss and my happiness for a 15% raise? I mean I will only put those extra money in the bank and earn interest" .

Marslow's hierachy of human needs tell us human goes through incremental levels physilogical, safety, love, esteem, and self actualisation needs.... I am guessing in certain countries where basic supplies and resources are extremely deficient ... it might be the physiological/safety needs of food and shelter (satisfied by forms of financial reward) may have larger impact than higher level needs such as respect by colleague, love and caring, pursuit of life goals etc. Nevertheless, in a truly excellent organisation, we want to make sure every worker's needs is cared for. Every individual, poor or not, will eventually grow out of the need to satify its physiological need and seek to fulfil esteem and self actualisation goals. It is important that managers recognise this and is prepared to offer support for these higher level needs when the time comes.

I know all of this sound too "ideal" or "in a perfect world this is what happens". But I know this from experience. In my previous job I often hear about my colleagues talk about a manager that used to run the place. They would tell me "Yeah... he was a good boss, I mean he really cared about us". Although at the time I joined this manager had already left the company, I could often feel his influence on the people he left behind.

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So much work to do- PIUSS pma, KBAM mini project, KBAM seminar preparation, ... ... ... keep fightin~


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  • totally agree by prestige car hire on this entry
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