The last 20 years has seen the monetisation of just about everything – including motivating and ‘engaging’ staff (and I use the term loosely). What was once the preserve of salesmen and factory workers on ‘bit rate’ has since become the norm across the public, private and 3rd sector.
But are we ‘richer’ for these practices? My conclusion is an unequivocal “NO”! Leaders and managers purchasing productivity are in danger of turning their business into a middle of the road mediocracy.
Change lanes now!
Driving output through reward is not a new concept. Paying “bonuses” in return for targets met or exceeded to ‘incentivise’ higher output for greater stakeholder gain has been with us for some time. However, performance related bonuses have evolved and morphed into hygiene factors – their presence will no longer motivate but their absence will de-motivate.
Organisations have become hogtied into making these payments for less than exemplar work and the message being conveyed is that you want more of the same! (You’re paying the bonus aren’t you?)
Getting it wrong
Reward routine behaviour and you’ll get more routine behaviour. Want more from your staff? They’ll now expect more in return as you’ve been rewarding mediocrity previously.
Stop the bonus payments and they’ll become de-motivated, withholding all discretionary effort and most likely affecting your business’ bottom line. De-motivated and disengaged staff are a destructive force.
Getting it right
Real engagement is achieved without the short burst of endorphines a bonus cheque creates.
Trade in the rusty old vehicle for long term career development; alignment between organisational and personal values and aspirations; increased responsibility, accountability, recognition and more autonomy; your team want to be heard and respected; enfranchised and valued.
Great leaders are not ‘transactional’ but ‘transformational’; they don’t buy effort from their team, they positively inspire it.
Financial rewards are simply not sophisticated enough to achieve that.
Flatter, more compressed management structures; intra-communications and ease of connectivity means a personal message recognising the efforts of the individual as part of the team is not only desireable – it’s unquestionably achievable.
Leaders need to orate what ‘success’ looks like and managers need to design simple yet comprehensive systems that measure inputs as well as outputs and outcomes; rewards should be linked to behaviours as well as results.
Motivating without money
- Have incremental non-financial rewards such as invitations onto work panels or groups; more autonomous working; more trust; sponsored time off to follow a pursuit they enjoy;
- Sponsor further academic studies;
- Demonstrate you know your staff – give rewards that will mean something to them personally;
- Make it clear that you’re rewarding the inputs as well as the outputs and outcomes – there are clear rules and a code of conduct which must be observed; this is about behaviours as well as results;
- Catch people doing it right – during the process hold up a few shining examples of the kinds of behaviour and activity you’re expecting, this will act as a ‘reality check’ for the others;
- Be as good as your word – if the reward was earned, then give it no matter how much it costs;
- If the reward wasn’t earned, explain why and make sure the misunderstanding doesn’t lie with you;
- Be prepared to challenge inappropriate or wrong behaviour along the way too. Organisational culture can be affected as much by behaviour which isn’t challenged as it can by behaviour which is rewarded!
Engagement is about more than a few bucks on the bottom line – a truly engaged and highly motivated workforce will strain every sinew to ensure your business remains viable because they believe in it.