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Motivate your team without giving them a Porsche!

By July 14, 2012July 26th, 2012All members

How to motivate your team without giving them a Porsche!


Thames Valley Chamber HR group recently asked me to present on the topic of non monetary rewards, as an introduction to a ‘table discussion’. Some of the key messages are summarized here.

Why do you need rewards?

Surely having a job and being paid is enough?! Well no, it doesn’t quite work like that.

According to & Hyphen:

  • A third of employees would take a pay-cut in favour of more annual leave
  • Career prospects are more important than money for graduate jobseekers
  • A quarter (25%) of 16-24 year olds chose their employer based on number of holidays
  • Nearly three quarters (70%) of more than 1,000 employees polled feel their employer either takes their efforts for granted or expects them to feel grateful for having a job

An effective compensation & benefits strategy is an opportunity for an organisation to differentiate itself from its competitors, and will make a significant positive difference to an organisation’s success.

We live in challenging times, with 20% VAT (even on warm cornish pasties), customers are scarce with less money in their pockets, and a little event called ‘The London Olympics’ will likely have a signigicant impact on many people’s transport, interest and attention.
Rewards enforce positive behaviour
So what are your options?
  • Remember to say thankyou. It’s surprising both how effective this can be, and how rarely people say it. This can be a public thankyou or a private thank you, in writing or vocally, but it should be sincere, specific and timely.
  • Be flexible. Allowing people some say in how they do their jobs, shows you trust them. Do not underestimate the power of trust.
  • Listen more. As managers and bosses we know we know best, don’t we? Nope! Sometimes the person on the shop floor or closest to the problem will already know what the solution is. You just need to listen – and then help them to implement it.
  • Don’t focus on hours worked, but on outcomes. Which would you rather have: miserable staff working 10 hours days to no effect, or staff working from home/variable hours and a great result?
  • Support them in increasing their knowledge. This doesn’t mean sending them on an expensive training course, but could be running an idea sharing workshop or having them work alongside someone in a different role or allowing them time to read/research a relevant subject online.
  • Team building. This doesn’t have to be a scary outward bound survival course, but could be a creative problem solving workshop or a sprts afternoon.Why not ask them for ideas about what they’d like to do?
  • Review their job roles, and see if you can give them more responsibility or career options. (If you don’t have agreed job descriptions and regular appraisals – you should). Ask them for ideas. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Some other ideas that came out of the TVCC table discussion included:

  • Bring a food dish to the office for sharing. This is particularly effective if you have a variety of cultures.
  • When you thank someone, do it at lunchtime and give them the afternoon off afterwards!
  • Have an regular ceremony where you give out ‘medals’ .
  • Send people ‘dinner for two’ vouchers. This has the advantage of thanking the ‘partner’ for their support too.

How do you choose the most appropriate reward?

To be effective, a reward must be clearly connected to the act or behaviour bein rewarded. This may seem obvious, but it often is not. For eaxmple, companies often have annual award ceremones which, by the time they are run are months afterwards, and no longer have the emotional connection to be effective. They are often also vague (everyon’e’s forgotten what is was really for).

Don’t assume everyone will be motivated by the same reward. Be aware that you may need several different types of reward. A reward that is specifically designed for an individual is often the most motivating of all.

An approach I use to determine the best awards, is to use a 2×2 matrix like this:

Ease of implementation graph


What do YOU do to reward YOUR team?

(With thanks to Andy Saoulis for the Porsche!)

If you liked this article, I also recently wrote: 5 Key ways to motivate your team


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