Every company faces this dilemma at one point of time, how do I reward my performer. We can say that there are two dimensions to rewards:
The first one is identifying the people eligible for Rewards and Recognition and the second is what is actually given in the name of Rewards and Recognition.
The latter holds no value unless the former is in place. Therefore, I am elaborating on the aspect of identifying the right people to be rewarded. If that is in place, most of our purpose is met.
Identifying the employees to be awarded
This area is not given its due importance in many companies. It is more of a product of one’s relationship with the concerned employees than the individual performance. It is interesting to note that in many corporate organisations, Rewards and Recognition that come in the form of opportunities, role change and promotion are based on the supervisor’s relationship with the person than the assessment of the performance. Organisations are relationship driven more than performance driven.
Ways to identify the people to be rewarded
Defining parameter for performance and identifying the tools to measure them in those parameters is generally not as simple as it sounds. Designing systems and processes for it is an ongoing task by itself.
For example, a trainer in a company will be evaluated on the trainee’s feedback on parameters such as course content, delivery, job impact and effectiveness. The feedback questionnaire should have the right questions pertaining to the parameters and his course style. Some training effectiveness can be assessed only after its application, which may take months. Both the quality of feedback and the time at which the feedback is given should be considered. In a training function, a group of trainers can be evaluated in this format so that the right ones are acknowledged. It is a challenge to design foolproof systems to measure performance. I would say it is almost impossible. Even in the above example, the framework given is not a comprehensive one. An ignorant person (trainee) evaluates the trainer. Positive or negative feedback of the trainee denotes only the trainee’s perception of the trainer and may not be indicative of the trainer’s calibre. Ideally a trainer should have a 360-degree feedback and he has to be assessed by another trainer. Transposing this example on any function can throw light on defining and measuring the parameters for that function. Perfecting these evaluation systems and processes is money, knowledge and time intensive and it is perceived to be not worth the effort. After all we are driven by our perceptions for assessment.
Within the given constraints, a boss and his subordinate co-creating measurable KRAs can help a great deal. An obsession for numbers is again a challenge today. Short-term achievements of results override long-term effectiveness. For example, a recruiter is measured on the number of people he has on board but not on the employee’s suitability or his immediate attrition or the cost at which he is buying those resources. It is a quite a cost and brand damage to the company if it loses employees within a few months of getting him on board. A high-performing recruiter evaluated only on number of recruits may actually bring in costly resources only to lose the cheap and more value producing ones who are within the system.
The dynamics of any function or role keeps increasing and it is necessary to draw the boundary efficiently and have a reasonable framework for evaluation. Fair evaluation is the key to reward and recognition. An evaluation framework should accommodate the input of the stakeholders in a function, for example, for a recruiter, his stakeholder will be the business he serves, his potential recruits, his offered candidates and his own team and dependant team members. The result is then close to fairness. (There is a great longing in me and I am sure you have too to evaluate the boss and show areas of improvement.) Feedback from every perspective can help in a decent evaluation and thereby appropriate rewarding.
Rewarding the wrong person can be a big turn off to the right ones to the degree that it can stimulate attrition.
Wrong rewarding is worse than no rewarding.
Rewarding, the act
The Rewards and Recognition spectrum can include salary increase, promotion, growth opportunity, bonus, incentive, company shares, gifts, vouchers, awards, certificates, appreciation mails and holiday packages – the list can hardly get exhaustive. Different combinations are tried out in different contexts.
Rewarding, to serve its purpose, should be designed in synchrony with an individual’s motivation.
Objective of rewarding is motivation and it is a very individual thing. How many companies consider even having a database as to what motivates their employees? Capturing such data right at the time when an employee comes on board and then updating it at constant intervals by a default system can help phenomenally not just in rewarding but even in job designing and team structuring.
Generalisation on what motivates is what hampers the purpose of rewarding and recognition channels.
Herzberg’s motivation hygiene theory is one theory that I agree with. The definition by Wikipedia is “there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction.” Herzberg theorized that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction act independently of each other.
The two-factor theory distinguishes between the two:
Factors such as challenging work, recognition, responsibility that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth
Hygiene factors (preventing dissatisfaction)
Factors such as status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions that do not give positive satisfaction, although dissatisfaction results from their absence. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.
The key to purposeful rewarding will be in addressing the motivators rather than the hygiene factors.
Both are important but the rewarding purpose is met easily by targeting motivators rather than hygiene factors. It also depends on the individual’s motivation system.
Let me narrate an incident here. After a small meeting my entire team had, my super boss called and asked me to do a book review for our team as a recurring event. (I had participated in the meeting he addressed and it seemed that he saw some potential in me.) Having been in the team for only two months, this opportunity came about as a great reward and recognition for me. He called the entire team and announced me as the anchor for book review. And I went about it, feeling an increased sense of importance in the team.
An associate who was till then quite unknown or not talked about suddenly became noticeable. It changes peoples’ perception. And let me admit, I am still not evolved enough to be unmindful of others’ perception about me. After that incident, I realized reward and recognition are actually about altering your fellow member’s perception about you in a positive way. It is about trusting you. It is about giving you freedom. It is about believing in you more than you believe in yourself. The fellow members can be your team, family, friends, society or the media. His approach worked for me, it may not work out for someone else. A tangible benefit may click for another employee. Understanding the recognized person’s need/motivators and rewarding accordingly is all it takes to reward sensibly.