We’ve all heard the old adage, “what gets measured gets done.” And if any of you have studied animal behavior or trained a dog before, you also know “what gets rewarded gets repeated.”
Therefore, why is so little time and attention paid to rewarding and recognizing employees that are early adopters of social business practices/ tools? How else are we supposed to motivate employees to engage in the “desired” set of behaviors in a social business transformation?
In my view, reward and recognition programs are underutilized in many organizations and can be a low hanging fruit in your change efforts. Many executives and managers say “Why should I reward this person for just doing their job?” This attitude is naïve and illustrates a lack of understanding of human behavior and the way to change it.
Humans respond to positive reinforcement, modeling of appropriate behaviors, and look to their immediate and upper management for cues on how to behave.
Rewards and recognition programs, when executed well, are effective in taking advantage of these principles of human behavior and psychology to create the desired change in behavior. A recent study Reena Ali and and M. Shakil Ahmed explores this issue further.
With some creativity, resourcefulness, and some good old fashioned “knowing what’s important” to your target audience(s), you can accelerate your social business transformation by employing meaningful, contextually-relevant reward and recognition programs.
Say “Thank You”
Many employees relish in the opportunity to learn new skills or see the business moving in a different direction. For others, change is really hard. Learning a new skill, tool, or process is taxing and requires extra effort and brain power. Some people take longer to learn new skills than others, and as a result, they may be putting in extra hours on the job just to keep up. As I mentioned in prior posts, change can also generate a lot of fear. The combination of extra effort and/or fear can cause frustration, anxiety, or resentment for many.
Saying “Thank You” to the team for putting in the extra work to learn the skill/tool/behavior/process is a powerful validation of their efforts and an equally effective reward and recognition tool. Say “Thank You” to the early adopters for helping their teammates learn the new skills. Say “Thank You” to those that may not enjoy the change, but are, nonetheless, willing to put in the effort to support the new direction of the business. A little “Thank You” goes a long way in a transformation journey.
Document Success Stories
One way to celebrate a social business super star’s success or a team’s journey is to document their success story by communicating the benefits of the new process/behavior/tool to the business (including quantifiable and qualitative outcomes), and the benefit’s to that person’s job. Success stories inspire others and reinforce the desired behaviors to the employees’ peer group and beyond.
There’s a variety of ways to promote success stories:
- internal article on your company’s intranet site
- internal blog
- town hall meeting
- brown bag lunch
The options are limitless. Pick the method that resonates most with your targeted audience for change. Or combine a few ways to make sure the message gets heard. Being famous for a day can be fun and rewarding for your employees!
Give Out Meaningful Rewards
Employees are not one-sized fits all, therefore, rewards shouldn’t be either. When building a rewards program for your transformation effort, think about the various stakeholder groups you are targeting, what motivates them, what their psychographic profiles are, and then brainstorm a few approaches.
An award or reward can range from costing zero to something more expensive, depending upon the rules, regulations and budgets of your company. Some examples include:
- an extra vacation day
- a framed certificate for excellent work performance
- a gift card
- a cash bonus
- a team dinner
Here are some additional things to consider as you build out your rewards programs.
- Will you reward individuals, teams or divisions or some combination?
- How frequently will you distribute rewards? The key here is to make sure in the beginning the rewards are given out on a frequent enough basis to keep the desired behavior top of mind.
- Will a tiered reward system work well, one that consists of small, frequent rewards, and then one larger reward on a less frequent basis?
- How will employees earn this reward? Will it be based on qualitative input or quantitative metrics? Do you have a way to capture these metrics?
- Will your culture and target audience respond well to a contest or competition? This approach works well with people who are already competitive by nature, such as Sales.
- Can you incorporate social business criteria into existing reward and recognition programs? Or does social business deserve its own rewards program?
These ideas will jumpstart your thinking about what works in your business for the target employee populations for the change.
Create Public Displays of Recognition
Almost all of us like to be recognized for the great work we do. Some of us can be a little shy or reserved, and prefer a private word of acknowledgement, and many of us feel proud when we’re recognized for our achievements in a public forum.
Recognition comes in many forms and doesn’t have to be a formal awards ceremony. A powerful way to recognize an early adopter or an employee achieving great results is when an executive mentions that employee in an All Hands call, staff meeting, or other regular forum.
Public displays of recognition work very well in offices where teams are co-located. Arrange for a time when everyone can come together and make an announcement or give out an award to the person who has demonstrated the desired set of behaviors. Having that employee’s team and peers see that display of recognition can elicit pride and also envy. Both are good. We want employees to be hungry and motivated to succeed.
For virtual teams, showing an image of the award in a video conference or web meeting for all to see helps to celebrate that person and then he or she can display a print out of the award or certificate on his desk.
What are the best ways your organization rewards and recognizes its employees for the way they embrace Social Business? Please comment here or tweet me @jennifer_dubow.