No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Fourth Job of a Leader: Reward the Team

We've talked about the first three jobs of a leader: Set the course, prepare the team, and get the work done. The fourth is to reward the team.

When your people do good work, reward them. If you don't, you signal to them that being better than average has no more value. After all, the basic employment contract is they work, you pay. If you won't move beyond that, neither will they.

So at the end of a busy spell, or when a project gets done, or just every so often, do something for your team. Buy them pizza. Cut up a watermelon. Give them jackets or polo shirts. Sometimes, give them money. Always, tell them specifically what they did that you're thanking them for.

I say sometimes on the money because the motivational value of money is very short-lived; we all have an insatiable appetite for more. A decent compensation package is part of that basic employment contract we talked about, not a reward system. A merit increase outside your normal raise cycle can make a great reward, but if you do it too often then nothing else you do will look very good. Bonuses are tricky; you will never have enough money to satisfy, so you run the risk of looking cheap if the amount disappoints them.

Mostly what your team wants is for you to acknowledge that they worked hard. That's why movie tickets (tip: give enough for the whole family) or even public praise can be effective.

A couple of key points: First, reward the whole team, because everything involves teamwork. But also reward your top performers individually, because otherwise you encourage mediocrity. Give them a reason to excel. It also sends a message to the rest.

Second, it's not your job to reward yourself, anymore than a team member can give himself a day off. It's up to your boss to reward you. If you have a bad boss, don't take it out on your people. Reward them anyway, even if you're not getting anything.

Rewards are more than just fair, they're smart leadership. They motivate the behaviors you want and put the team in the right frame of mind to try hard on the next job. That's why this task is just as important as the first two.

No comments:

Post a Comment