24 March 2009

Leadership and reward

How important being rewarded is, becomes clear when we look at its influence on human behavior. Which the credit crunch from 2008 makes clear. Then it became clear that loan officers had created bad debt, because they were rewarded for every mortgage they created.

When it comes to rewards, the first that comes to mind is compensation, paid at the end of the month or the end of the year in money. Compensation is often combined with personnel benefits, which may not be directly valued in money, but they represent money. Next to compensation and benefits there are other forms of rewarding.
The first one that may come to mind is the reward received from the work done. This can be the feeling of accomplishment, when a job is done succesfully. Of the feeling of success when a job is ready. Or the feeling that the job was a learning opportunity.
A completely different form of rewarding is that of the recognition by others. This can be verbal. Or in the form of new projects or promotion.
An often overlooked form of rewarding is that which people feel when they are part of a group or team that is successful or is seen as successful.

So leaders have different means of rewarding themselves and others.

Effective rewarding
The most effective method of rewarding does not exist, because all humans experience different forms of rewarding and combinations of rewarding as pleasant. So there will be employees who like to get a large salary and great benefits. Where others would rather be rewarded with difficult projects and find the reward in successfully closing projects.

This difference in experience of rewarding, means that leaders need to search for the right combination of rewards for every single employee.

An important point when it comes to rewarding, that should not be forgetting, is that the stronger the emphasis on short term rewards, the faster employees will find ways to receive the reward. And that behavior is even strengthened by the example that they get.

So the effectiveness of a mix of rewards is also influenced by the example that leaders give.

For a leader this means making visible how he experiences the way he is rewarded. And this in itself is a reward for the employees, because the leader shows that he finds his employees important enough to make them part of his experience.