I recall how annoyed and even angry I would become as a child when my math teacher would mark my work as incorrect when my answer was right but the I didn’t show all my work or my way of getting the correct answer wasn’t the “proper” method.
I was thinking about this as I read a recent article in Talent Management on performance and the theories of Thomas Gilbert. The author says:
“Doing things right is a waste if you do not achieve desired results. In the workplace, we expend far more energy on behaviors – how people should do things – than on valued accomplishments – the goals to be achieved.”I argue a need for balance between these two. When the pendulum swings too far towards results, we get ENRON. Too much focus on behaviors can cause us to lose sight of desired results, however. When the two are in balance, the company’s goals are achieved within the proper constraints.
With the insight of an adult, I now understand my teacher marked my math solutions as incorrect because she knew that I arrived at the correct answer more by luck than through sound mathematics. If I continued to use my method, I would more often arrive at the wrong solution.
The same is true in the workplace. While we want our employees to be as productive as possible, we don’t want them striving to achieve impossible productivity numbers by risking their own health and wellbeing. While we would love for a new product to be delivered ahead of schedule, we don’t encourage production methods that also knowingly harm the environment.
That’s the power of strategic recognition programs – bringing balance to behaviors and results. Best practice is to clearly define the desired behaviors and values you know are important to achieving your strategic objectives (and clearly defining those as well). Then encourage everyone, at every level, to notice and appreciate the efforts of colleagues that reflect those values and contribute to those objectives. Keep it in balance.