In the past, I worked for a company when I had a remarkable year in terms of performance. When I had my year-end review, my boss who was doing my review gave me exceptional numbers, in fact probably the highest that I had ever seen with that company. However, after my review was complete, the company gave me a somewhat standard increase in compensation. I was insulted by this approach. My boss had just told me that I was an exceptional performer, but I was getting what I considered to be a very pedestrian increase. This didn’t make any sense. If you have made an exceptional performance by the company’s own admission, why can’t it be rewarded accordingly? I had a lengthy discussion with my manager about this remarkably confusing and frustrating concept, and his reply was, “Well, you should still feel lucky that you actually got one of the highest raises in the company. Most people this year are only getting 2 to 3 percent raises, and you got 5 percent.” This did not make me feel better.
I believe that you can lead a team where exceptional performance is rewarded. So what can you do as a leader to create a reward structure? Yes, there are laws that you have to follow in each state and country, but the innovative and creative manager finds ways to reward exceptional performance.
Here are 5 tips to help ensure that you are rewarding your best so that they remain the productive backbone of your organization:
1. Treat everyone differently: When you know your employees well, when you know what motivates them, when you know what spins their wheels, then you have the ability to customize your approach to each employee. Let’s say you know that one of your employees’ key motivators is time off. Let’s also assume that there is a week the employee works lots of hours, works hard, and has exceptional results. Imagine what would happen if you walked into that employee’s office on Friday afternoon at two o’clock and said, “Thank you for all your hard work this week. As a reward, I would like you to go home early today.” Obviously, this would have a positive impact on the employee. First, there would be the great sense of accomplishment that comes with being in the car on a Friday afternoon leaving work early. Then the employee would get to explain the reward to surprised family members at home. The secret to this approach is knowing what motivates each employee. We have to figure out which approach works to customize the incentive.
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