“Every pure talent I’ve ever dealt with has been motivated to enhance self-esteem,” said Steven Berglas, psychologist, executive coach and management consultant. “They are more or less immune to the pull of external rewards. They’re not in it for the money. They ask for money, but that’s more confirmatory. They were the chosen kids, the select kids, and they always shall be. They want that notoriety. They want to be declared No. 1, and that’s their burning desire. Most everything else is secondary or tertiary.”
Agreed. I’ve written frequently on the hazards of focusing on cash as a motivator. The author goes on to point out other industry experts speaking to the importance of knowing your employees, knowing what is rewarding to them and, critically, having conversations with them – talking with them, meaningfully and personally. I agree with all of these points and am glad to see them being raised into the discussion spotlight again.
But the part I liked best was when Beverly Kaye, CEO of Career Systems International, called out companies who target just their high-performers for development and recognition:
“Organizations are looking at engagement only through high-potential glasses, and it should be much wider. Critical talent can be anyone whose departure from the organization would cause significant problems or pain, whether it’s the janitor or the COO.”
Exactly right. And that’s why the OPPORTUNITY to be recognized -- and to recognize others -- should be equally open to everyone. That doesn't mean every employee will receive that "great job" recognition, of course. The top performers will receive the most, naturally. But all employees deserve the opportunity to be recognized for work they do that is worthy of recognition. Setting artificial limits only serves to deter some mid-level performers from wanting to work harder. Why should they? From their perspective, they're efforts aren't appreciated!
This interaction between performance and recognition is important and must not be underplayed. Be sure to come back on Friday for a deeper discussion of this angle.