Motivate Employees & Recognize Achievement – Especially in a Down Economy

Lindsay Blakely of BNet again offers an insightful article on managing your team during a downturn. In particular, she talks about getting your team involved in the solution and rewarding deserving employees.

Blakely sets a goal to “motivate employees and find out how and where the business needs to change.” Getting your team behind you to find solutions in a down economy or when the firm is struggling is not only smart, but may help you grab market share . Involving employees in decisions about where to cut costs also gets their buy-in for greater compliance. Also, if you have a strategic recognition program in place, you can add “business discipline” or “costs discipline” as a category for reward. This gives you insight into areas of the company working harder to save money and also encourages sharing of those ideas across groups or divisions.

Blakely sets another goal to “recognize achievement, even if resources are scarce.” Managers must continue to recognize above-and-beyond effort or actions demonstrative of company values – in fact, this becomes even more important during a down market. David Sirota, founder of Sirota Survey Intelligence, offered this telling anecdote:

“Lack of recognition — both financially and verbally — is one of the things that does the most damage. I worked with an investment bank some years back where bankers were earning bonuses from $100,000 to $1 million a year. You know what they complained about? They didn’t know if the chairman thought they were actually doing a good job, because he never spoke to them about it.”

As I’ve blogged repeatedly, cash is never the best motivator.

I do take issue with Blakely’s encouragement of Yahoo’s method of elitist recognition, in which the top 15-20% are singled out for recognition. When you limit formal recognition programs in this way, you miss out on countless opportunities to reward employees for their daily actions and behaviors that reinforce the company values and drive company performance based on your stated mission. Strategic recognition is very powerful tool in the management toolbox – it must not be limited to the relatively few.

What are your stories of lack of recognition?

2 comment(s):

At September 18, 2008 5:56 AM, Team Rewards said...

i can only recommend to pay employees according to their performance. this will make them feeling a sense of ownership and increase their motivation to work. i made very good experiences with this approach. in addition this approach is just fair. if the company does well (because of the employees' good work) they will benefit. if the company does not so well, the employees have good reason to try harder next time

At September 22, 2008 8:42 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Thank you for the comment. Yes, pay for performance is a strategy growing in use and can be very affective when administered properly. However, just as with strategic recognition, reasons for increased pay must be explicit and tied to company goals, strategy or values to reinforce desired behaviors. This is why Globoforce advocates using strategic recognition as a tool to accomplish the same end as pay for performance.