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Finding a Better Way Than Rewards and Punishments

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Rewards and punishments are such an integral part of organizations it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. Yet one video reminded us that these are the least effective ways to motivate anyone.

The clip was sponsored by the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts and has been making the rounds for some time. We know this may seem long by modern YouTube standards, but the 11 minutes will be well worth your time. Here’s the absorbing video (direct link here):

For regular readers of our blog, this is old news. We’ve talked before about employee productivity and motivation and even gave an entire presentation around workplace productivity. AccelaWork believes strongly that we should motivate workers by empowering them to work.

The site The Balance, has an article about this topic of employee empowerment. One of the best tips they give are to share your goals and direction with your employees.

When possible, involve employees in goal setting and planning. They add value, knowledge, ideas, insight and experience that you won’t find on your senior team. At the very least, involve them in goal setting on the department level and share the most important goals and direction for your group. With the help of your employees, make progress on goals measurable and observable, or ascertain that you have shared your picture of a positive outcome with the people responsible for accomplishing the results.

If you share a picture and share meaning, you have agreed upon what constitutes a successful and acceptable deliverable. Empowered employees can then chart their course without close supervision.

Again, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, this concept shouldn’t seem revolutionary. If you involve all your stakeholders in these decisions, then not only are you going to get valuable input from an array of perspectives, but you’re going to allow your employees to feel more empowered and thus do better work. It’s a win-win situation. Unfortunately, too few employers are willing to adopt this mindset.

Another interesting suggestion they have is to delegate impact opportunities, not just more work.

Don’t just delegate the drudge work; delegate some of the fun stuff, too. You know, delegate the important meetings, the committee memberships that influence product development and decision making, and the projects that people and customers notice. The employee will grow and develop new skills. Your plate will be less full so you can concentrate on contribution. Your reporting staff will gratefully shine – and so will you.

This is a great idea. Too often companies only delegate more work, leaving all the “important” things to management. But that’s foolish. If you have an employee in a position to give an impactful presentation or run an important meeting, let them do that. Allowing opportunities such as those are going to be far better for your organization than simply rewarding or punishing employees could ever be.


© Flickr user SaskPower

If you’re a manager, stop worrying about what you pay your employees and start focusing on valuing your employees which in turn increases employee satisfaction. If you’re an employee, stop worrying about what you are “allowed” to do and instead focus on defining your responsibility and authority. When both parties are actively working at those things, an organization will have the healthiest balance that leads to productive and empowered people, all the way from the entry-level employees to the founders and CEOs who are supposedly running the show.

Intrigued? Learn more about our values. Contact our business process improvement consultants today! We’d love to help you get on the right track when it comes to employee empowerment and overall business productivity.

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