Reward vs Recognition…Strange Things to Say the Least

As a Sales Professional I have a tendency to not see things quite as black and white as my colleagues and Money is really not what motivates me to do my job (don’t get me wrong…it doesn’t hurt).  So if Money is not a motivator for me and all around me my colleagues are being tossed extra cash from incentives to do their job a couple of days per month…what is it that keeps me motivated to work hard, succeed and excel?

So if I am in Sales, and Money does not motivate me…what keeps me going back for more every day?  There are two things that keep me “functional” and “sane”…the respect of my peers and the knowledge that if I do my job right…I can truly help my customers.

The reality is, I would probably work just as hard everyday if I was on Flat Salary and did not have the carrot of Commissioned Sales, Bonuses and other Rewards dangled in front of me and would likely be just as successful as I am today because I genuinely care about doing a good job…not for the money but for the satisfaction of doing that good job.

Study after study has shown that monetary rewards does not motivate a long term change in behavior or improve productivity…so the question is…why do companies think that throwing more money and trying to fix problems in the short term is a good idea?  There is an old saying that “The beatings will continue until morale improves!” and the reality is…that doesn’t work either.  I think it boils down to the real question of Management vs. Leadership and that is not something that comes easily.  There are many good Managers out there that couldn’t Lead their way out of a paper bag but because of the motivational tactics that produce short term results…it appears to be a success (but then look to the other numbers and stats…like turn over, consistent results, continuous improvement etc).

A really good report from the Incentive Federation looks to the effects of using cash as an incentive.  My favorite quote from it states:

Today over 83% of rms have some form of performance based pay
system in place. While these companies have bought into the concept,
the majority also feel that they are not getting the desired rate of return.

But despite the lack luster results…it is still the preferred method of Motivation.  I am a firm believer that the recognition of a job well done is worth more than anything else.  If rewarded by an “At a Boy” with consistency this positive reinforcement will build a desire to continue to conduct the behavior that earned that reward…just as giving cash will…the problem is…when you remove the cash…there is a tendency for performance to drop…requiring a larger cash incentive to get the same results as before.

This is a bit of a rant…but I would much rather work towards “stuff” over a long term…like having a point system like a store Loyalty Program that I can use the accumulated Points to “buy” what I want…over time…that to me is far more beneficial and because the requirement would be sustained performance…this would equate to each person getting what they individually want…and the organization realizing their long term Goals.

Well, that is it for me today…I am off to cuddle with my new friend Chelsea who through the kindness, dedication and support of dozens in my home town was returned to us last night.

Cheers,

Chris J Powell

Posted on December 1, 2012 in Leadership

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