How do you recognize employee success? When members of your team go above and beyond, or if it’s just time for quarterly reviews, in what way do you praise their behaviors? Do you give rewards that you think are best? Alternatively, do you understand what drives the employee, and what motivates them?
We know from research that human beings (aka employees) are positively motivated in several key ways: by people, by material things, and by themselves. (There are other, more negatively oriented motivations, but we’re talking about rewarding people here, not beating them with a stick).
Of these three motivations, our behaviors determine which (if any) are more preferred, or if there is a balance between them. There is a match between certain types of rewards/recognition and these behaviors, so the effect of your actions can be a huge hit, or a major miss depending on whether you get it right. Here are three example employee behaviors to explain …
1. Primarily motivated by people: these employees are driven by the team around them. Personal recognition is a big deal for them. Recognize them with direct feedback and visible kudos to make the most of their behavior.
2. Primarily motivated by things: sometimes it’s all about the money or physical trophy! It’s important to have something to show for the effort, especially if it’s a commission based position. Don’t be afraid to be materialistic.
3. Primarily self-motivated: some employees still just go the extra mile because they honestly believe it’s the right thing to do. In these cases, heaping a lot of extra attention or accolades on them might actually backfire slightly, or at least embarrass them somewhat.
How do you know which type of employee you’re dealing with? Well, you can obviously ask the, but behavioral analysis is the most accurate way to tell. After all, people are not always the best at self-diagnosing their own intricacies.
Two important footnotes: 1) it’s not disastrous to recognize the employee in the wrong way, but it’s a potential waste of effort and effect, and 2) You need to be “fair” if you’re recognizing people in different ways. With clients, we’ve found there has always been a way to “customize” the recognition to the particular employee behaviors, and that can have a huge impact on their engagement and productivity.