I’m sure there was a time during your childhood when you may have received a piece of candy in recognition for a job well done or reward for good behavior. Once you had eaten the candy, the feeling of accomplishment was quickly forgotten.
In contrast, I’m confident you can remember a time when a parent, coach or teacher told you something positive or specific about how you completed a project, acted like a team player or performed in class. The same holds true for us as adults in the workplace. James Robbins discusses these two types of recognition in his book, and we asked him about it in our interview, highlighting Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go from Manager to Leader.
Robbins’ model “is founded on nine key questions to ask yourself each Monday morning during your leadership planning time. Each question is tied to one of the nine drivers of employee engagement and will help you create small actionable goals that will inspire and motivate your staff.”
CP: You discuss the difference between recognition and reward and why the latter isn’t as effective. Could you talk a little about the philosophy behind this fact?
JR: There has been some fascinating research in the last few decades about the power of intrinsic motivation versus motivation that is extrinsic or comes from the outside. When people are intrinsically motivated they are more engaged in what they are doing. They will also be more creative and persist longer with a problem. But when rewards are introduced from the outside, especially in the form of cash or prizes, they can almost have a dampening effect on the future motivation with the same task. Not only that, they set up a dangerous cycle of people expecting more of the same. Recognition, on the other hand, is more about helping people feel valued, and one of the best ways to do that is through simple words. In the book I cover an easy formula called The Recognition Codes to help people string together simple recognition statements that can be used with their employees, which literally take a few seconds.
CP: If there could be only one minute on Monday dedicated to this topic, which one would you choose as most important for managers?
JR: That’s a tough question. If I could only pick one, it would be minute nine: the need for a model to follow. Our examples as leaders do more to dictate our success than anything else. If we truly want people to follow us, engage their talents and work with all their heart, then we have to be exemplary leaders. I’m not talking about management ability here either. This goes beyond the role and extends to who you are as a person: how you treat people, how hard you work, whether or not you take responsibility for your mistakes, humility and courage. Like it or not, there is a certain morality attached to leadership and we have to be that part. A leader’s example always has been and always will be paramount when it comes to him/her cultivating a following. The next most important minute is number one: caring for your people.
Are you rewarding your staff with specific comments that demonstrate how much you value them? Furthermore, do you model leadership for your staff? Consider Robbins’ second answer in this interview and how he describes good modeling behavior.
CausePlanet members: Don’t forget to register for our next live author interview with Tom Wolff, who trains and consults in collaborative solutions. We’ll discuss the essential principles he explores in his book The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools for Building Healthy Communities on Thursday, August 22 at 11 a.m. CST.